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The Telegram
  • Unkempt lawns a problem in Frankfort

  • Frankfort village codes enforcer James “Butch” Staffo has sent out 21 letters to property owners advising them to mow their lawns.

    “We’ve got to come up with some way to correct this,” Staffo told the village board at a meeting Thursday evening.


     

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  • Frankfort village codes enforcer James “Butch” Staffo has sent out 21 letters to property owners advising them to mow their lawns.
    “We’ve got to come up with some way to correct this,” Staffo told the village board at a meeting Thursday evening.
    He said the people who live in the village are not usually the problem.
    “It’s the ones that are abandoned or are in foreclosure, both by the banks and the county and the ones owned by absentee landlords,” said Staffo.
    The village could mow the grass and add the cost to property taxes, but the village Department of Public Works doesn’t have the staff to mow all those properties, Staffo said. Besides, the village may not get its money back. If the properties are turned over to the county for non-payment of taxes, the village doesn’t receive any money back if the properties are auctioned off.
    Superintendent Ron Vivacqua said the DPW has done some mowing of neglected lawns. “The grass could have been baled,” he said.
    Staffo said if a property is in foreclosure, he tries to find out the name of the bank holding the mortgage with the help of staff from the village office. “Most banks will work with you,” he said, adding the banks won’t want a lien against the property when they try to sell it.
    The sign at the front of the municipal building carries a message advising property owners that grass should be no more than 6 inches tall.
    “It’s not 6 inches,” said Trustee Mark Harris. “It’s 3 feet, 2 feet.”
    Mayor Frank Moracco said if power and water have been shut off to a property, village officials could look at tax records to see who owns the property. In some cases, though, it is difficult to determine who owns a parcel of property.
    Staffo said he also tries to get the word out to neighbors to contact him if they see someone at an abandoned property so he can try to find out who owns it.
    Moracco directed Staffo to contact the county about the problem and said the village should also seek help from other officials, such as Rep. Richard Hanna. He asked village officials to keep an eye out for problems as well. “If you see a property is becoming run down, don’t keep it a secret,” he said. “We have different alternatives we can use.”

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