Mayor: City will crack down on junk cars, yard waste

Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth reminded attendees at Monday night’s town hall meeting that failure to abide by city law on junked automobiles or removal of leaves can result in costly fines.

Hollingsworth said the city will soon begin a crackdown on “abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or inoperative motor vehicles in places other than junkyards or other appropriate areas.”

Code enforcement officers with the city’s zoning and inspection department will be confronting owners or occupants of properties on which such vehicles are discovered. Written notices of violations will be presented, and 30 days will be granted for remedies.

If corrective actions are not completed, persons convicted of violations shall be punished by a fine of $500 and double the amount for each additional offense. For each day the prescribed remedy is not satisfied, an additional penalty of $250 will be assessed.

The mayor said it’s unlawful to deposit leaves — and trash — on public property.

“People can’t blow leaves from their property onto a street,” she said.

The referenced ordinance states that it’s unlawful to “dispose of any leaves, trash, weeds, grass, litter or combustible or flammable waste by depositing or causing to be deposited the same in any ditch, street, alley or public property of the city at any time or any circumstances.”

First-time offenders will be issued a warning ticket, unless circumstances warrant stricter actions. Repeat offenders shall be fined $25 plus court costs. Third violations will bring fines of $50 plus court costs. Additional convictions will result in penalties of $100 plus costs and denial of burn permits for a year.

“We’ve undertaken an effort to enhance the image of our city and such an effort is inclusive of beautifying our streets, yards and neighborhoods,” Hollingsworth said.

Police Chief Jeff Eubanks spoke about crime “hot spots” within the city and stressed that a correlation exists between abandoned properties and service calls to the police department. Eubanks said that during the past year, statistics indicate that nightclubs experience a doubling in service calls between 2 and 6 a.m.

Hollingsworth thanked police officers for their efforts in reducing crime during 2013, saying their successes contribute to the effort of “restoring our image.”

“Now we can start analyzing our strengths and weaknesses,” she said. “We will make sure the points of entry into our city are what they should be.”

She said residents are the city’s “messengers,” and thanked ministers, neighborhood crime watch groups and others for their efforts in improving “Pine Bluff’s quality of place and quality of life.”

The lone city council members in attendance — Aldermen Bill Brumett and Steven Mays — offered similar statements.

Hollingsworth said she’ll be delivering the annual state of the city address next month, and that recent efforts “to help make Pine Bluff what it can and should and shall be” will “fuel my focus on economic development and jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Hollingsworth said the city’s Safe Team neighborhood efforts will resume in March.