Unimproved Real Property Nuisances (Vacant Lots)
On July 28, 2014 the City Council Section 43 of the Unimproved Real Property Nuisance for the purpose of abating the public nuisances defined in that chapter. The owner of any unimproved property located within the City of Port St. Lucie who creates, suffers, or permits encroachment upon a developed lot shall be responsible for abating the nuisance and, if the owner fails to abate the nuisance in accordance with the notice given pursuant to this chapter, the City may abate the nuisance and the City shall be reimbursed for the costs associated with the abatement pursuant to the provisions of this chapter for the recovery of those costs.
The City, acting at the direction of the City council, shall have the authority to and shall take steps to ensure the abatement of public nuisances in the most aggressive manner provided by the City's Code of Ordinances and state law. The abatement of such nuisances protects the public health, safety and welfare, enhances the value of the property, involves the furnishing of vital municipal services, and specifically benefits the property on which the nuisance is abated. The cost of any abatement, including administrative fees and costs, shall constitute a special assessment upon the benefited property.
Web Link to Municode - HERE
Unimproved Real Property shall mean any lot, tract or parcel of land that does not have any structure of any kind or type either placed or constructed upon it.
Nuisance shall mean any of the following:
- Any public nuisance known at common law or in equity jurisprudence or as provided by the statutes of the state and ordinances of the City, including this chapter
- Any accumulation of rubbish, trash, refuse, junk, and other abandoned materials, metals, lumber, or other things, which based upon the facts and circumstances of the accumulation has become a public nuisance in fact.
- The existence of excessive accumulation or untended growth of weeds, grass, undergrowth, brush, or other dead or living plant life parcel of land is or may reasonably become infested or inhabited with rodents, vermin, wild animals, or snakes; or may become a breeding place for mosquitoes; may pose a fire hazard; threaten or endanger the public health and welfare; pose an attractive nuisance for children; may reasonably cause disease; or adversely affect and impair the economic welfare of any adjacent property.
- Any "attractive nuisance" or condition which may prove detrimental to the health and safety of children, including but not limited to lumber, trash, debris, or vegetation such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac, which may prove a hazard for inquisitive minors.
- Such other acts or conditions which are determined and declared by other ordinances or by resolution of City council to be or constitute public nuisances.
CONDITIONS THAT CONSTITUTE A VIOLATION
Any condition of the following to remain or continue by act or omission shall constitute a public nuisance:
It shall be unlawful for owners of unimproved real property located within the City whose property line adjoins or abuts improved real property to permit weeds, grass, vines, Brazilian pepper trees and other invasive species, undergrowth or other vegetative matter to grow thereon to a height of more than twenty-four (24") inches within ten (10') feet of the side and rear lot lines, provided the lot line is within thirty feet (30') of a permitted residential dwelling unit or principal commercial structure.
If a tree, as defined in Chapter 153 of the City's Code of Ordinances, has branches which have grown within four feet (4') of a permitted residential dwelling unit or principal commercial structure, the owner of the unimproved real property is required to trim the tree branch back to the property line to prevent further encroachment. Nothing in this Section shall be in conflict with the provisions of Chapter 153 of the City's Code of Ordinances.
Owners of such unimproved property shall also keep their property free from rubbish, trash, debris, junk, dead, fallen or partially fallen trees which may endanger other persons or property or to allow other unsightly or unsanitary matter to remain thereon.
EXCEPTION: The provisions of this section are not applicable to unimproved real property which is zoned agricultural or golf courses.
Some lot owners will receive courtesy letters prior to the scheduling of a Code hearing. This letter informs the parties of a pending overgrowth complaint and provides additional time for compliance.
Vacant Lot Compliant Process
- Complaint Received & Filed.
- A courtesy letter may be sent out to the lot owner if Code Compliance is not formally addressing the complaint.
- When complaint case is formally addressed it will be assigned to a Code Specialist.
- The complainant will be contacted by a Code Compliance Specialist who will validate the complaint and go over some information with the complainant regarding the code case process.
- If the property is found during this initial inspection the Code Specialist will request a Notice of Hearing be mailed to the property owners to allow time for them to comply and to provide a Hearing date and time if not in compliance by the date provided in the notice.
- If not in compliance prior to the hearing, the Vacant Lot case will be heard by the Special Magistrate.
- If found in violation at the hearing, the Special Magistrate can order the property owner 15 days to abate the nuisance or be subject to City abatement.
- A Code Specialist will inspect the property after the date specified by the Special Magistrate during the hearing.
- Upon failure of the owner of the property to remedy the conditions existing in violation of the requirements, the City Manager or his/her designee shall proceed to have such conditions remedied by contract labor or direct labor or both.
- The City council shall assess the entire cost of City abatement action upon the affected property as a special assessment, which assessment, when made, shall constitute a lien upon such property by the City.