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Valley Veteran Seeks Cleanup for Neighboring Abandoned Lot

3 years 1 month 18 hours ago Tuesday, September 26 2017 Sep 26, 2017 September 26, 2017 5:26 PM September 26, 2017 in News

LOS FRESNOS – Rio Grande Valley veteran Thomas Pate is an outdoorsman. He tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS spending time beyond his front door isn't what it used to be. He said the property next door to him is neglected.

"There's several golf carts throughout there," said Pate, "with batteries in them. They've got these big old lead-acid type batteries."

The Cameron County Health Department issued a citation to the property owner in May of this year. Pate's biggest concerns are the animals that are spilling over from the property next door.

"Rodents, rats, snakes, possums, armadillos come over into the yard here," said Pate. "They all live here."

He believes his dog, Buddy, may be at risk.

"My dog gets in fights with them, you know? Which I'm sure it's not healthy," said Pate.

Months after the citation was issued, Pate said the nuisance remains.

"I don't know what else to do, but come to you guys for help," he said. 

CHANNEL 5 NEWS obtained a copy of the citation from the Cameron County Health Department.

The violations include "keeping, storing, or accumulating rubbish or any unused, discarded, or abandoned object," and "maintaining premises in a manner that creates an unsanitary condition likely to attract or harbor mosquitoes."

We reached out to the property owner on Thursday. A man who identified himself as the owner's father said his daughter plans to have the property cleared and put up for sale.

On Tuesday, CHANNEL 5 NEWS received pictures from Pate showing a portion of the lot's grass cut.

Cameron County Environmental Health Director Gustavo Olivares told us the property owner will need to do more than mowing the lawn to gain compliance.

"The property owner basically has to go and clean up this property," said Olivares. "And remove all the objects that are not in good use."

Olivares said the health department must now decide how to proceed.

The department plans to reevaluate the property this week before making a determination. Olivares said they basically have two options:

"We can continue the criminal process or do the abatement procedure," said Olivares.

Cameron County established an abatement procedure in a county order on May 2, 2017.

The order states: "In the event the property owner fails to abate the nuisance before 31 days after the date of notice is received, and has not requested a hearing, the department may abate the nuisance by demolition or removal."

Olivares said the abatement process is ultimately decided by the county's commissioners.

"The abatement procedure is something that the commissioner's court are the ones who have the final say so on which properties get cleaned within the county based on resources and funding," said Olivares.

Pate believes he will one day be able to regain peace of mind outdoors.

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