Beaufort News

Empty lot cleanup in Beaufort draws complaints

Beaufort tackled another overgrown and vacant lot this week in Pigeon Point as part of a program that helps residents clean up disheveled properties for free.

Although city officials praised the work for eliminating a safety hazard, some residents complained to Beaufort City Council members that the lot cleanup wiped out a natural habitat for animals and ruined their views.

Mack Cook, city comptroller, said the owner of a lot at the corner of Charles and Calhoun streets asked to participate in the vacant-lot remediation program, which seeks to beautify the city and remove safety hazards.

Started earlier this year, the program clears participants' lots for free. Afterward, if an owner fails to maintain the lot, the city can file a lien equal to the cost of the cleanup and any additional work needed to bring the property up to city standards.

Workers cleared trash, building and construction debris, tires, paint, bottles, and cans from the Pigeon Point property, Cook said.

Councilwoman Donnie Beer, who spoke with some concerned residents, said although the lot might have been home to wild animals, it also posed safety and health problems the city had to address.

"We can't be selective in how we enforce our ordinances," Beer said.

All protected trees were preserved, Cook said, while many overgrown shrubs and other vegetation were cut back or removed.

This week's cleanup was similar to the program's work in other areas, Cook said.

"The work restored the sight line at the intersection, which eliminates a vehicle safety concern," Cook said. "It takes a fire hazard out of the neighborhoods and an illegal trash-dumping site out of operation."

No other lot cleanups are planned at this time, Cook said.