Impact 5: New Palm Beach County ordinance lets code enforcement cleanup nuisance properties

Many of the homes in one central Palm Beach County community are infested with snakes, Africanized bees and raccoons. We told you about one such house in Lake Worth last fall.  There was nothing neighbors, such as Carol Libutti, could do.

"I've been told I can't step on the property and I can't eradicate them myself," Libutti told NewsChannel 5 last November.

But now there is something the county can do about it.  Under a new county ordinance, passed unanimously, Code Enforcement officers in unincorporated Palm Beach County can go in, get rid of the nuisance, and send the property owner a bill. If the bill doesn't get paid, it shows up on the property owner's next property tax bill.

"The only thing the county could do was fine the property owner so we might have had a lean on the property but the nuisance was still there," Kurt Eismann, the director of Code Enforcement said.  "In this instance the county has a more proactive stance."

The money to repair these homes comes from the Property Foreclosure Registration ordinance.  It's a $150 a year fee paid, mostly by banks, that own foreclosures.

"That money can only be used to abate a nuisance on a foreclosed or abandoned piece of property," Eismann said.

Now that the ordinance is approved, the county could have the bees and raccoons removed within a month. But funds are limited, the county's only targeting homes that pose dangers, like swarms of bees or abandoned pools.

If you'd like to file a code enforcement complaint, you can call 561-233-5500. But the program is only for unincorporated Palm Beach County.

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