St. Clair County has added teeth to a law forcing the removal of graffiti on property in unincorporated portions of the county.
Property owners now face hefty fines unless they remove graffiti etched or painted on buildings and fences within five to 14 days of notice from county inspectors. Similar legislation already was on the books but a revision unanimously approved recently by the County Board allows the county to fine property owners between $75 to $750 for each day the graffiti is not removed.
Board Member Ed Cockrell, R-New Athens, said he worried the time limit was an "undue hardship" upon the property owner, noting most such graffiti is within economically depressed areas of the county.
County Board Chairman Mark Kern said the time limit was important because gang-related "tagging," a way of marking territory, should be removed as soon as possible.
Building and Zoning Director Anne Markezich said one of the areas graffiti-related problems are prevalent is State Park Place and Kern is correct about gang-related tagging being the reason behind the time limit.
The change in ordinance did not stem from particular property owners, Markezich said, but an overarching effort to eliminate gang graffiti. The county was not able to issue citations prior to the legislation change.
"St. Clair County, as it does with all code enforcement, will work with citizens to remove graffiti in a timely manner as long as there is a good faith effort to comply with the ordinance," Markezich said.
"However, gang graffiti will not be tolerated and law enforcement will be notified so that those doing the tagging will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2501.