KENNETH CITY — New rules governing the upkeep of homes and other property have not yet passed, but neighborhood snitching has already started.
Kenneth City officials received a two-paragraph letter on Oct. 15 signed "Concerned Citizens" that complains about two addresses on Lake Charles Drive N.
One house allegedly has "rotted fascia board over the garage and peeling paint on all fascia boards, and soffits need prepping and painting" on one of the houses. The other "needs paint work, but more important is the separated and fallen window decorative cement trim on the front of the house." While officials are at the second address, the anonymous letter writers want them to "please check all vehicles for current registrations."
Officials have not done anything about the complaints — yet. But that could change after Wednesday if the council passes an ordinance that sets standards for the upkeep of all property in Kenneth City. The 26-page ordinance also sets forth the punishment for failing to obey the rule — $250-a-day fines.
The proposal has created a furor in this town of 4,500. Opponents object to the proposal on many grounds, including a section of the rule that gives officials the right to come onto, and inside, property if they have probable cause to believe there is a violation.
The opponents, who crowded into the October council meeting, said they are also concerned about the effect on senior citizens and others on fixed incomes who do not have the money to comply with the rules. And they argued that the ordinance would pit neighbor against neighbor who will be tattling on each other.
Proponents say the ordinance is sorely needed. The town's appearance, they say, has been declining in the past few years, and the situation has become worse with the slump in the housing market. As people move away from homes they can no longer afford, the houses are left vacant and unkept.
The anonymous letter writers spoke for many of those who want the ordinance passed: "We are very appreciative of the new ordinances to improve our city. Over the last 13 years since we have lived there, the overall condition of houses in the city has dramatically gone down. We hope that the new ordinances will be enforced to improve all property values, especially for those of us that take great care of our properties."
It appears the proponents may get their wish. Council members unanimously gave tentative approval to the ordinance in October. They are scheduled to give final approval Wednesday unless the opponents can dissuade them. The meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Community Hall, 4600 58th St. N. It is open to the public.