Hidalgo Co. Program Tackling Chronic Nuisance Properties

3 years 10 months 1 day ago Thursday, December 21 2017 Dec 21, 2017 December 21, 2017 5:35 PM December 21, 2017 in News

MCALLEN – Hidalgo County is trying to rid of all the home health hazards. If property owners don't heed their warnings, they can be fined.

The Hidalgo County Nuisance and Abatement program went from having no cases to more than 1,000.

A nuisance property is not only an eyesore, according to a McAllen resident.

"I want to say almost daily, people are coming and dumping different things, trash, tires, beer bottles, diapers,” said concerned homeowner Denise Davila.

She said it's a headache added to some safety issues.

"It was a health hazard, I mean you couldn't see. It was not only a safety hazard; there's an apartment complex, a lot of kids are playing in this area, you’re turning in here you couldn't see anything. You couldn't see anything at all because the grass was so high,” she said.

Davila lives down the street from this now cleaned up a lot.

"I've never seen it this clean in 28 years. We've lived in this subdivision, never seen it this clean,” she said.

Davila said her family took it upon themselves to clean up the mess.

"My parents actually had to pay somebody to come cut this yard. Years ago they paid people because it's just crazy,” she told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

She said she finally had enough and emailed her precinct this year. Hidalgo County Precinct 4 followed through to the Hidalgo County Nuisance Abatement Division.

"We started the program, October 2, 2016. So we are little over a year, we’re right at a thousand cases that have been reported,” said Hidalgo County operations administrator Chris Trevino.

He said some properties didn't respond to their certified letters.

"The county in this little over a year and two months have done 87 abatements meaning the county has gone on to 87 properties; cleaned it up and turnaround and charged them,” he explained.  

If the county can't contact the homeowner, they can face some hefty fines.

"Some lots some can be a regular residential lot where the precinct can be out there for an hour,” he said. “We can charge them $100 depending on how long they've been there. It can be a five-acre track,10-acre track and we've seen some bills as high as $5,000.”

Trevino said the two precincts that need the most help are Precinct 1 and 4.

"Precinct 1 has had 41, currently has 41open cases. And Precinct 4 has 38 open cases,” he said.  

Trevino added the high number doesn't match the program's success rate.

"724 of those cases have been closed. Out of those 724, nearly 70 percent have been successful closures, meaning that the residences got in compliance on their own without the county having to go on their property clean it for them and then charge them,” said Trevino.

Davila is glad her neighbors responded.

"It's awesome. I wish it was like this all the time, especially since it's a corner lot just trying to make sure you're able to see traffic, oncoming traffic and stuff like that,” said Davila. “Hopefully, nobody comes and dumps trash anymore.”

Hidalgo County hopes more nuisance property owners come forward.

The program is a four-member team. They count on the precincts and the community to get involved. For now, they have a total of 210 open cases to close.

Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios explained they have worked with hundreds of their nuisance property owners to help clean up their homes.

He said one major problem in the precinct is illegally dumping.

"We received a grant last year. We are working with our constables; surveillance. A lot of surveillance out there,” he said. “So for those that are exercising their illegal dumping, there are cameras out there now. We've had many citations and they're being dealt with at the JP [Justice of the Peace] level.”

Palacios added the increase in development in Precinct 4 has them working overtime.

He said they are working with their partners for services like curbside trash pickup.

Below is a category breakdown of The Hidalgo County Nuisance Abatement cases:

  • 1,034 total cases

  • 210 total open cases

  • 724 closed cases

  • 87 Pct. abatement case

  • 13 pending Pct. abatement cases 

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