|Written by Bill Hanks|
It's the middle of the summer and you want to have a few friends over for an outdoor party. However, your next door neighbors yard is a mess. What can you do to address the problem?
Know your Neighbor. What type of neighbor do you have? Is it an elderly person? Are they handicapped? Are they lazy? A lot of times just knowing who or what they are can help you out. If they are elderly or handicapped, ask them if they need some assistance. You might say something to the affect of "I see your grass and weeds are getting out of hand. Is there anything that I can do to help?" Or you might say, "I see that you are starting a new wild life reserve in your yard." Make sure you laugh. Sometimes joking around can get the point across that you are trying to make. You might just tell them that you are having guests over and ask if they can clean up before your big day. Whenever I approach somebody to talk, I always get them alone for the talk. This says embarrassment around others. Nobody likes to be shown up.
Check with your Alderman. Find out who your Alderman is and report to them about the problem. Tell him your plans and ask for him to intervene. That is one of his responsibilities for his position.
Know or read your ordinances. Every City Hall or Village has a set of ordinances. Ordinances are set up to govern and keep property and laws in order. Usually there are ordinances for everything from Swimming Pools to fence setbacks. There are ordinances on used tires laying around to unused automobiles. There are ordinances on campers, heavy equipment, trees, right of ways, height of the grass, trash set outs,dogs, and even lights at night time.
You can always get a copy and use them as reinforcement for your case. Sometimes, law officers have to enforce them. Nobody wants to be a bully but, they are there to be used for situations like property clean up. They are there for safety and health reasons, too. One example that I can give you is this. In our town we had a property that had an in-ground swimming pool. It was very new. The person that owned it neglected it to the point that mosquitoes were using it to breed in. With the fear of the spread of the West Nile Virus, an ordinance in place forced them to immediately take action. That is the reason for ordinances. Many times ordinances are passed at Village or City meetings without much attention being given to them. Usually ordinances must have a public reading before being approved.
Get help. If the individual is elderly or incapacitated, seek help from action groups. There are church groups or public and private clubs that thrive on opportunities to help out people like that. What could take your neighbor to do in weeks, can be done in minutes with the right group working with you.
Don't wait. Human beings by nature are lazy. Don't let the problem get too far out of hand. If you have storm debris, clean it up within a couple of days. Don't let toys stay out and clutter the yard. Don't let tires and refuse sit out where they can be viewed by your neighbors. When your grass is mowed, cut the weeds too. Yard clean up is a continuous job. It doesn't matter if you put the trash on your property or if some passer by did. When it is there, it is your property, it is your responsibility to see that it is cleaned up.
Be proactive. Be a good neighbor. Always be willing to help. This way your neighbors will know that you care not only about yourself but them as well. It can go along way in good neighbor relationships. From time to time remind them about small things that you noticed. You might use a different neighbor as an example. Here's an example. A property had a camper on jacks sitting in the backyard. I made the comment that it looked dangerous when children were playing there. The person that I was talking to made the comment, " Yea, I need to get those old bricks that I have stacked in back yard out, too." By bringing to attention about another safety issue, I was able to get this neighbor to act. This is being proactive.
Good neighbors don't like to cause issues. However, sometimes you have to be a concerned neighbor to get results.