BIG PINEY – Fast-growing weeds quickly take over rights-of-way, sidewalks and alleys, and the Big Piney Town Council decided to tackle some problems with the assistance of the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.
At the Tuesday, July 17 meeting, parks/ streets director Kara Losik asked the council what to do with overgrown weeds that fall into private property along the town’s rights-of-way. The town has ordinances about trash and weeds but has not enforced them of late.
Mayor Michelle Hymas and councilmembers Aimee Davison and Scott Scherbel suggested reminding people to take care of those rights-of-way along their properties.
“Put something in a letter, a reminder of the city ordinance,” Scherbel said.
Losik said she does whack some weeds but in some places, property owners are supposed to clean up the rights-of-way.
“It’s an ongoing problem,” she said of several properties. “At what point do we draw a line in the sand? There’s trash just chucked everywhere.”
Councilmember Sherri Redden said that question arose at the recent Wyoming Association of Municipalities conference in Pinedale.
“They said to go to your local police with a letter for the individual about the town ordinance so it doesn’t get personal between the town and citizens,” she said.
Mayor Hymas asked town attorney Scott Sargent, “What can we do? We don’t have a police department.”
“You can contact the sheriff’s office,” he said, noting that Sheriff KC Lehr was present. In Kemmerer, he added, a code enforcer makes an initial contact and helps people “instead of coming down hard.”
“There are people out there who firmly believe it is their property and no one should tell them what to do with it,” he said.
mayor Ben Jenkins and four young men went to the property and cleaned it up but it’s back to the way it was before that, she recalled.
“We have tried the soft approach,” Redden said.
Sheriff Lehr said the sheriff’s office can only enforce ordinances, which Big Piney has against both trash and weeds. He asked for the relevant ordinance numbers.
“If we pursue citing the ordinances we’ll need a municipal judge,” Lehr said. Ruth Neely is Big Piney’s municipal judge.
Sargent advised, “It’s easier to enforce an ordinance with an investigation.”
“We could ask the sheriff’s office to investigate to see if there is cause for action,” Scherbel said. “They investigate and return with the violations, ask the town council what to do and we decide which ones to work on.”
Sheriff Lehr said his deputies can take pictures and talk to owners for reports to the council.
The mayor said the town lost a legal battle once about a similar situation. Former