Lexington, SC (WLTX) - Lexington County Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that would make a messy yard illegal.
The law aims to hold homeowners accountable who fail to maintain their property.
"We don't have time to police neighborhoods, but if there is a situation we want to have something to work with," said Johnny Jeffcoat, the Lexington County Councilman representing Chapin.
Jeffcoat says he's had more than one voter call and complain about a neighbor's yard in his district. He voted to pass the ordinance.
"The have stuff growing over the house, garbage in the yard flipped over, all kinds of trash. We're talking about nice neighborhoods," said Jeffcoat.
The ordinance regulates swimming pools, grass, weeds, portable buildings, and structural disrepair. Property owners not in compliance would be charged with a misdemeanor.
"I believe in personal property rights but to me it seems like a restriction of personal property rights. I may not like how you live but you bought it," said Frank Townsend, the councilman who represents Batesburg Leesville.
Townsend voted against the property management rules. He admits messy yards do need to be cleaned up but thinks neighbors and churches can do the work.
"The average person in the rural area might have portable containers because he works in his back yard and he's done that for years. If passed, he'd be a law breaker overnight."
A public hearing will happen before the final reading of the ordinance. The hearing is not scheduled but will mostly likely happen between late March and early April.