'Mow to Own' program could be coming to Baton Rouge

'Mow to Own' program could be coming to Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The lawns of some abandoned houses in Baton Rouge get so bad that nearby homeowners take matters into their own hands, caring for the places themselves. Now, an East Baton Rouge Metro council member wants to reward those citizens who are helping out their communities.

Councilwoman Tara Wicker said it is time to offer something to people who step up and try and clean up these properties.

"Oftentimes you'll have individuals that are mowing their lawn and they'll just sort of go on over into that lot because it's so close to their home," Wicker said.

Wicker is proposing a "Mow to Own" ordinance. If a citizen maintains a property, where taxes aren't being paid, for at least a year, they will get priority on buying that lot once the city takes ownership for back taxes.

Wicker said it would be a direct sale from the city to the homeowner.

"The intent is to try to streamline the process, expedite the process, in an effort to really get those properties into the hands of those individuals who have been maintaining those properties in a good state anyway," Wicker said.

Some residents, like Devin Morris who lives near Government Street, said they would actually enjoy the extra motivation to help their neighborhoods.

"We need to get this community straight, get our environment, you know, right. I'd be doing it. It would be fun," Morris said.

However, Annie Mae Holmes, who has lived on Virginia Street since 1963, does not feel the same way.

There are several abandoned lots near her home. She said after witnessing the flooding that hit Baton Rouge in March, she doesn't think rehabilitating blighted properties is always the answer.

"The water rise down here. I wouldn't want to own anything down here," Holmes said. "The water rise. We use boats, just a couple of months ago. Those people down there all had to come up. I'm just fortunate it doesn't come into my house."

The Metro Council could vote on the measure Wednesday.

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