Marked Tree Police working on property abatement

Friday, November 24, 2017

Several residents of 11th Street showed up to Marked Tree's November City Council meeting to voice concerns about a house they want deemed a public nuisance.

Sherri Whitlow spoke to the council about the problems and presented them with a packet on nuisance abatement, which was put together by a Hot Springs police officer when they instituted the program in 2003.

"We have had serious issues on 11th Street that have been happening for a while," Whitlow said. She said since FOX13 did a story on people not feeling safe there due to activity at a meth house and threats of violence, police presence in the neighborhood has picked up, and things have quieted down since the individual in question was arrested. But Whitlow wanted to know what can be done to prevent the problems that come with drugs in neighborhoods in the future. "It's not just on 11th Street," Whitlow said. "It's happening all over town. The problem is nuisance properties."

She said nuisance properties are properties police have to attend to multiple times a week and added that many cities, including Jonesboro, have started nuisance abatement programs to help. Under such a program, when a property is determined to be a nuisance, civil action can be taken, and those who live there can be evicted. Then, the police put up a sign declaring the property a public nuisance. The circuit court has custody of the property, and all persons on the property are subject to search by police. Further, convicted felons are banned from the property.

Following Whitlow's presentation, Marked Tree Police Chief Michael Matlock said the police are working on getting the property in question and a few others around town declared public nuisances. He said he worked with Trumann Police Chief Chad Henson and Assistant Chief Jonathan Redman, who are both familiar with the process. "The signs are coming. We just need to get the judge to sign off on it," Matlock said. "Once the sign is up, anyone with a felony cannot be on that property."

Matlock also pointed out that a petition signed by the residents of 11th Street was a great help in moving the process forward. "We had a lot of names on that petition," Matlock said. "Your petition made it easy for us. That's every citizen on the block saying there's a problem with that house."

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