Johnston City officials warn homeowners to clean up - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Johnston City officials warn homeowners to clean up

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JOHNSTON CITY -- Johnston City leaders plan to crack down on messy yards with a warning, asking residents to clean up or face a fine. 

City officials say they hope the potential penalty will motivate residents and increase the property value around town.

Folks in Johnston City received a notice in the mail Monday informing them they could get fined for not keeping their yards clean. Homeowners say they don't think it's fair for the city to tell them what to do with their own property.

Daryl Driver, of Johnston City, keeps a car sitting in his front yard, waiting to get the right parts to get it running again. But now, he could face hundreds of dollars in fines if he doesn't move it or cover it up. Fines outlined in the notice delivered to residents Monday.

"I'm not too thrilled about it. I'm on a fixed income. I don't have the money to really turn it around and move the car right now," said Driver.

People with junk cars, unruly grass and weeds, or any other kind of debris in their yard will receive a warning to pick up the mess in their yards. Those that don't could pay between $150-700 in fines, which must be paid within a 10-day period.

"I don't think that's fair at all. They need a little bit more reasonable time frame to do things," Driver continued.

City officials say those that don't pay within that time, will receive a city court date to face a judge.

"Some larger cities have city court, where a lot of their city ordinances, a lot of their traffic citations, a lot of small misdemeanors actually go to a city attorney, and it gets prosecuted through there," said Johnston City Police Chief William Stark.

Chief Stark adds that the plan is spruce up the area and make it more appealing to newcomers.

"It's not our goal to write citations for these things, it's our goal to just get the city cleaned up. I make it more appealing to business. To make it more appealing to people that want to move in here," explained Stark.

Although Driver says he would rather not deal with the junk car in his yard now, he understands the city's intention.

"In the long run, yes, because the city is a little cluttered, and a little...trashy in some places," Driver concluded.

Driver says if he gets a warning to move his vehicle from the yard, he'll just throw a tarp over the top of his junk car. In addition to yard maintenance, this notice also addressed fines for other minor offenses in Johnston City. Residents can now face city prosecution for things like a traffic violations or possession of cannabis.

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