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Summer is almost over, but Amanda Burkeâ€™s grandchildren havenâ€™t spent much time outdoors.
Burke said mosquitoes, rats, snakes and other pests from an unmaintained lot beside her fatherâ€™s house on 110 N. Fourth Ave. in Maiden prevent her family from going outside and enjoying the warm weather.
â€śIf it would have been kept up, it wouldnâ€™t have gotten this bad,â€ť Burke said.
Burkeâ€™s grandchildren, ages 4, 2 and 6 months, come back inside with numerous mosquito bites every time they go outside.
The town of Maiden has nuisance ordinances in place to manage overgrown lots and junk on properties within the city limits. But in Burkeâ€™s case, the townâ€™s hands are tied, said Town Manager Todd Herms.
â€śWe donâ€™t know if itâ€™s technically against the town ordinance or not,â€ť he said.
The town is working with the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources to determine if the spring running behind Burkeâ€™s fatherâ€™s property and the overgrown grass, foliage and trees are considered wetlands protected by state and federal statutes.
â€śWeâ€™re in the process of trying to find out (if the land is protected),â€ť Herms said. â€śWeâ€™re doing everything we can.â€ť
The property owner also has obligations to meet, Herms said.
Tracts of land must have three qualifications to be considered a wetland: hydrology, or a water element; vegetation; and soils.
â€śIf they meet all three of those, you have a wetland for sure,â€ť said Alan Johnson, environmental specialist with the NCDENR water quality division.
Johnson said there are also other ways for a piece of land to be considered a wetland without all three elements present.
Johnson said the Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for determining whether a property constitutes a wetland, and because he hasnâ€™t visited the site in Maiden, he doesnâ€™t know if the area qualifies as a wetland.
â€śIf itâ€™s a wetland, Iâ€™m not going to say clean it up, or tear it up, or fill it in, because we like wetlands,â€ť Johnson said.
Burke started attending Maidenâ€™s town council meetings in April in an effort to have the offending property cleaned up.
â€śI told them about the babies getting eaten (by mosquitoes),â€ť she said. â€śI wanted to know what their intention was for getting rid of it.â€ť
In Maidenâ€™s August newsletter, the town printed a copy of its updated lot-mowing ordinance for vacant lots.
According to the ordinance, â€śEvery owner or person in possession of a lot within the corporate limits shall mow or shrub down within four inches of the ground all weeds, grass or other noxious growth from such lot at least four times a year.â€ť
Burke said this isnâ€™t being done on the lot beside her fatherâ€™s house. She said the yard was recently mowed and weed killer sprayed on the property about three weeks ago, but that isnâ€™t enough to keep pests and other insects at bay.
â€ś(Weed killer) did not clean it up,â€ť she said.
Ultimately, Burke wants a safe, clean place for her family.
â€śI want it kept clean by the ordinance,â€ť Burke said. â€śIf theyâ€™re not going to enforce the ordinance, get rid of it.â€ť