BALDWIN COUNTY, Ga. — If you live in Baldwin County, a new ordinance says you've got to keep up the appearance of your property.
Tina Behne and her husband Harvey have lived in Baldwin County for four decades.
Together, they attended their first regular public meeting in 2018 after realizing the meetings weren't recorded or broadcasted live.
"They said they would look into recording the meetings, but then it was, 'Well, we never really agreed to it,'" said Behne. "We just try to find out what's going on."
So that's exactly what the Behnes did Tuesday night.
They wanted to hear about a county ordinance on property standards.
Three years ago, the ordinance failed because people in Baldwin County didn't want "government overreach," says county manager Carlos Tobar.
However, this time, county commissioners passed it unanimously.
Some of the rules include:
People can't pile waste in their yards that are in public view, or keep junk cars parked there.
In addition, property owners need to keep homes free of rodents, and vacant buildings must be maintained, locked, and kept safe.
Behne said, "I am ambivalent towards it because I believe in private property rights. I always will, although I can see it. There are plenty of residents in those communities that want it cleaned up, but what I don't get is certain people just don't want to look at things but they swear they are just trying to get people to work with them."
The ordinance says county commissioners are holding folks accountable for their property and structures after receiving complaints from the public.
"You cannot accumulate solid waste within public view," said Tobar.
Right now, the county will give you thirty days after receiving a complaint to clean up your property.
"That's without a citation," said Tobar. "If we come back within 30 days and you're making progress, we say, 'Great, keep it up.' Then, we'll come back in 30 days again, and if you stop making progress, you're going to have to face fines and possibly jail time."
Tobar says the county is working on extending convenience center hours to give folks more time to get rid of waste.
In addition, Behne hopes to see future meetings recorded, adding she wants to see "this community come together and be better."
Many folks in Baldwin County took to social media to share their thoughts and concerns on the ordinance.