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Code Enforcement seeks to work with residents for better Polk

November 6, 2018

Officer Casey Lyall sees a version of the following problem every day he rides around the hundreds of square miles that make up Polk County. Down some back road, or even along a main thoroughfare, someone has a house that is truly falling apart.

Their yards haven’t been mowed in ages, and the grass is tall enough to hide rodents of all kinds. Cars are left to rust in plain sight of the neighbors. Trailers left abandoned have unsightly holes in the outer paneling, or graffiti painted on the sides.

Lyall, who took over the role of the County’s Code Enforcement Officer under the Polk County Police Department, said that all these are problems he wants to tackle and much more in efforts to Keep Polk Beautiful for all.

Right now, he’s still got a lot of work ahead of him to get people to work with him, and not against his goals.

“The biggest problem are that people are unaware that ordinances exist within the county,” Lyall said in a recent interview. “It happened again just the other night. I went and spoke with a young man, and he kept saying ‘well I don’t live in the city.’ But I told him time and again that ‘Look at the side of my truck. You’re in the county, and there are ordinances.’”

Rules and regulations are what govern what people can and can’t do on their properties, and just because someone lives outside of the city limits doesn’t mean they don’t fall under guidelines put in place by Polk County’s Commission, which oversees all the unincorporated parts of the county.

The biggest code violations Lyall wants to combat as he continues to grow in his new role as the County’s Code Enforcement Officer is to tackle trash and overgrown yards.

“The second problem would be people with swimming pools that don’t have fences around them,” he said. “Above ground pools with a deck around it requires a fence around the deck, but those without have to have a removable or safety ladder.”

He wants to help people, not simply serve a citation and move on. That he argues only makes the process more difficult, and usually doesn’t end in the homeowner paying any fines for violations after going back and forth in court several times to adjudicate the issue. Or more likely, the homeowner will correct the issue and it never heads to court in the first place.

The best way that local residents can avoid a trip to their home from Lyall is to become better educated on what they can do on their properties, and understand that in many cases he’s only there to help them better their homesteads. All those rules and regulations are available online at Polkgeorgia.org via their link to the Municode system, which contains the county’s charter and ordinances and any updates made to those documents.

“You’ve got educate folks,” he said. “You’ve got to let people know these ordinances apply to them, and they have to follow those ordinances.”

Lyall during his new role as Code Enforcement Officer said he’s also working to address several trash-related issues within the county as well, and asks people to be more diligent about keeping their properties clean of refuse overall. It serves two roles in that it makes a home look good from the road for neighbors and visitors alike, and that it also serves to prevent the increase in the rodent population by providing them food sources, and spreading diseases by keeping down the insect population as well.

All of these things combined are easy to do for those who are able, but some property owners find themselves in trouble and physically incapable of correcting the issues. Lyall hopes to help with that problem as well by connecting elderly homeowners for instance with organizations that are willing to help, and also by recognizing that each case is going to be handled on an individual basis.

He doesn’t mind the work since his ultimate goal is to make the land he travels daily beautiful for all who live here, including those who might be outside of the ordinances currently. He just wants it to be nice for his family and everyone else’s as well.

Anyone who has code enforcement issues to discuss can contact Lyall via the Polk County Police Department at 770-7480-7331.

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