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Code Enforcement officer investigated for going into home uninvited

Posted: July 3, 2012 - 4:27pm  |  Updated: July 5, 2012 - 3:56pm

Twitter @ValerieRowell

 

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a Martinez woman’s claim that a county Code Enforcement officer walked into her home without permission.

The woman said she woke Monday morning to a man standing in her bedroom doorway.

The man was Code Enforcement Officer Jimmy Vowell, who was at the home to serve a violation notice because her grass was too tall. Having grass more than 12 inches tall is against the property maintenance county ordinance. It can breed pests and is not aesthetically pleasing, county Development Services Division Director Richard Harmon said.

“We were made aware of this (Monday),” county Administrator Scott Johnson said Tuesday. “We put Jimmy on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”

The woman said she called 911, and was referred to Vowell’s supervisor, Environmental Compliance Manager Mike Anderson, Johnson said.

Even though a report was not filed with the sheriff’s office, Johnson said county officials asked the sheriff’s office to investigate the incident, which the woman captured on surveillance video at her home.

“Certainly it is an issue that is troubling,” Johnson said. “We feel it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

The video shows Vowell knocking on the woman’s door before walking into the house and then to the doorway of her bedroom.

The county policy on entering a home is to never enter a home without permission.

“(Policy) is the exact opposite,” Johnson said. “We don’t enter a residence without permission in code enforcement unless there are extenuating circumstances.”

Vowell was originally hired as an erosion and sediment control officer and has the necessary certifications. His job description changed to include code compliance during restructuring, Harmon said.

Vowell is a Level I Code Enforcement Officer certified by the Georgia Association of Code Enforcement through the University of Georgia. He also is scheduled for a Master class in August. Vowell also is retaking an exam he previously failed to receive an International Code Council Property Maintenance Code certification, Harmon said.

Sheriff’s office personnel are investigating the matter, including possible criminal charges. The investigation could be complete as early as Wednesday, Capt. Steve Morris said.

Harmon said Vowell went to the woman's home to serve a violation notice for not maintaining her grass because someone filed a complaint with the county.

"This wasn't the first time," Harmon said of complaints about the woman's overgrown grass.

 

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Comments (34)

IknowEverything

I think there are plenty of

I think there are plenty of other "absent minded people" bringing down the property value in Columbia County and I don't mean the citizens.

meriwether123

Countz347

Maybe YOU should offer to mow her lawn instead of calling her the neighborhood filth. And if she did in fact lose her income as someone else stated then who are you to judge while paying someone else to do your lawn? And just because your friend is a neighbor and knows what happens in their neighborhood, doesn't mean you do. So I'm still curious to know how you are aware that the inside of her house needs to be cleaned. Has your friend/neighbor been inside of her house then?

PUPPYMOMMA

I'd just like to have the

I'd just like to have the number for that teen age kid that will cut her grass for $10.

IknowEverything

Whoa Reality

I believe Barry Paschal should take down your comment there, Reality. That's a pretty cruddy accusation to make, especially if it is not true.

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