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Complaints are frequently made to the health department about nuisances of various kinds by citizens who seem to feel that we have the power to act officially on any condition that may be offensive to them. Such is not the case. We were established by law to carry out certain duties and enforce certain laws specifically assigned by the State Legislature. There are many cases in which we have no authority to act. The health department may act only if there is a threat to the public health. Oftentimes, though, we can refer you to another source if we cannot help.
Typical of the complaints which are not under the province of the health department are those pertaining to weed patches, poison ivy, mud holes, poor drainage, line fences, accumulated junk, unfenced storm water retention ponds, livestock or poultry operations, rental disputes, offensive odors, water service, and barking dogs. These problems can be sometimes be addressed by other local authorities, but only if a local ordinance has been enacted concerning the issue.
Here is a link to the State Department of Health website regarding the three types of nuisances; public health nuisances, public nuisances, and property nuisances.
Below appear some examples of complaints we can do nothing about. These are based on real complaints we have received in the past:
1) We can do nothing if your neighbor won't mow their grass. Snakes and rats are no more likely to inhabit their tall grass than they are to live anywhere else. There is no state or local law requiring lawns to be maintained.
2) We can do nothing if you live next to a cattle farm, pig farm, goat farm, etc., and you don't like the odor. You probably live in an area zoned A-R (agriculture-residential), and that is where the farms are supposed to be.
3) We can do nothing about junk automobiles. Yes, they are unsightly, but they are not a public health threat. They are a nuisance. Sometimes Planning & Zoning can help with junk cars - call them at 738-8927.
4) If your neighbor saves aluminum cans and has them stacked up to the roof, we can do nothing. If they have old engine blocks or transmissions sitting around, we can probably do nothing about that either. Those cans, engines, and transmissions are valuable to them, and we cannot make them get rid of something of value.
5) We can do nothing if you live on a gravel road and have asthma; we cannot make the county pave your road.
6) We can do nothing about dogs running loose - contact Harrison County Animal Control at 738-8163.
7) We can do nothing if your neighbor has 15 dogs or cats living in the house with them.
8) We can do nothing if your neighbor has 6 or 8 or more kids living in the house.
9) We can do nothing if your neighbor's windows are dirty and you can't see in their house anymore.
10) We can do nothing about your neighbor's tacky lawn ornaments.
11) We can do nothing if your neighbor's hair looks like a rat's nest.
12) We can do nothing about your neighbor's offensive body odor.
13) We cannot make someone get running water.
14) We cannot make landlords update their rental property, even if the roof leaks or the floor has holes in it. We can only require them to fix leaking or failed septic systems.