Blighted property and illegal burning of hazardous materials and other debris has the attention of Lynch City Council and other officials.
In a lengthy discussion during a meeting this week, the council, mayor and fire chief appear to be in agreement the city must get tougher on the issues to protect the health of citizens and to remove unsightly eyesores that tarnish the city’s image and reflects negatively on the increased tourism promotions.
Mayor Johnny Adams said it is “tricky” to do something on the matter and not spend a lot of money the city does not have.
“It is not cheap to do it completely legal,” said Adams.
He said several tactics have been used in the past and they don’t seem to be working as well as they should. Therefore, Adams and the council are looking at stiffening the penalties for the problem property owners if they don’t act swiftly.
Councilman Bennie Massey said the problem is not just on Main Street but can be seen in several locations throughout the city.
The panel discussed the possibility of seeking assistance from Harlan County Attorney Fred Busroe and his staff due to the limited funds available for the city and the city being a part of the county.
The cities need help from the county officials on proceeding with condemnation procedures to get the properties cleaned up, said one member of the panel.
Council discussed issues created by having two different owners of the two-dwelling homes, especially when one is damaged by fire or vacated for some other reason.
In a related matter, council is looking to stiffen penalties and to enact a burning ban to prevent residents from setting fire to debris piles, creating unhealthy breathing conditions for residents.
Fire Chief Bill Goode said he is concerned by the issue, adding he believes fires within the residential community should be restricted to smokers, grills and fire pits, with no debris burning allowed. He emphasized the close proximity of homes creates increased concerns for safety as well.
He stressed it is illegal to burn tires, housing material and shingles, but added some do it anyway. He called for stiff penalties to be enacted to protect residents from having to breathe the smoke which creates health issues.
“People shouldn’t have to put up with that…,” said Goode.
He suggested that any burning which takes place other than the fire pit, grill and smoker require a burn permit be obtained from the city clerk.
Goode emphasized that the Environmental Protection Agency will issue substantial fines to those who burn materials illegally. He said that has occurred rather recently in the city and should be a warning to others.
Adams agreed to research the issues and to consult with other municipalities to see what they have in place that the city could use as a model for new and more stringent ordinances.
Also, council approved a measure that will allow Clerk Erica Eldridge to proceed with utilizing Reach Alert for emergency notifications to city residents of boil water advisories and other emergencies. The cost is only $30 per monthly and will allow the city to notify up to 350 residents who sign up for the service, which is free to them.
A special-called meeting is scheduled for today at 5 p.m.