The Duncan Banner

October 27, 2013

Curb, lawn notices upset residents

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Sue Gibbons, who has lived in Duncan 12 years, moved into a corner lot at Ninth and Elm in 2009. Gibbons said she started working to clean up the curbs last year, even making significant progress on the Elm Street side of her property.

“This is the first time in probably 30 years this has been done,” Gibbons said. “It takes a while.”

Although she has worked to improve the curb appeal of her property, Gibbons received a door hanger informing her she was in violation of city code and could be fined as a result.

The City of Duncan ordered 1,000 door hangers to inform people about violations for overgrown curbs and cluttered street gutters. All were hung on doors throughout the community and more were ordered.

Dana Schoening, director of community development for the City of Duncan, said the door hangers make up only the first stage of a three-tiered goal of getting curbs and street gutters cleaned up.

Schoening said the first round of door hangers went out about a month ago. City workers will be revising many of those homes in the coming weeks to determine which houses need public notice letters. Once public notice letters go out, residents will have 10 days to get their curbs and gutters cleaned up before further action is taken.

“In my opinion, we’ve had good compliance,” Schoening said. “The next step for the properties is to follow up.”

Gibbons said she works from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. most days. By the time she gets home from work, daylight is gone, which makes it difficult to work on the property’s curbs. Yet, she still tries because she wants her property to look better.

“I come home every night since we got that notice and I feel like there’s something wrong with my property,” Gibbons said. “I understand we want a neat clean city that attracts businesses.”

The idea behind cleaning up the curbs was the result of response received from a retail scout, someone looking for a location to build its retail chain. Schoening said the scout told him the community “looks tired,” which Schoening said made him look at the community in a different light.

He said the idea is to get curbs and gutters cleaned up to make the community look nicer and more attractive to prospective businesses, whether they be retail chains, restaurants or companies looking to set up shop.

“It’s something we’ve just started enforcing,” Schoening said. “We haven’t enforced it in a good many years.”

During Tuesday’s Duncan City Council regular meeting, Duncan resident Leland Stephens addressed the council about the street cleanup project.

“Why now?” Stephens said, regarding the curb cleanup notices.

City Manager Jim Frieda told him the street cleanup project is geared to prevent further erosion of city streets. By cleaning up curbs and street gutters, there are fewer chances for grass to grow into the street, which would cause issues with street foundations.

“We need to take care of our streets. I think everyone is aware of that,” Stephens said.

As for street gutters, by allowing debris to gather causes water to collect in those gutters, which would enhance erosion or encourage the grow of grass or weeds in the gutters, Schoening said.

A drive down any street in Duncan will reveal at least one, if not more homes, which have curbs overgrown with weeds and grass. This includes some of the most traveled streets and even businesses which need attention. The increasing number of vacant homes adds to the problem.

Schoening said the city has received numerous calls, many from concerned residents wanting to know what they need to do to no longer violate the city codes. He said he appreciates people who want to improve the appearance of Duncan.

Starting next week, the city will start issuing public notices letters. Although 1,000 hanging door notices were delivered, Schoening said far fewer public notice letters will be sent out because many people have taken steps to improve their curbs.

“We’ll probably send 80 to 100 letters out next week,” he said.

Gibbons may find it difficult to cleanup her curbs, but she has strong concerns for older Duncan residents, who may live alone and be unable to cleanup their curbs on their own.

“What’s going to happen to the little old people?” Gibbons said. “It’s deeply, deeply disappointing. To put a citywide requirement with no thought as to who lives there, how old they are, I am extremely disappointed in the city council.”