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Burnet County gets serious on nuisance property cleanup

This property at 208 Deer Springs Drive is scheduled for a Burnet County abatement later this summer, meaning county work crews will step in and clean it up. This photo of the property was taken in March. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

The Burnet County Commissioners Court unanimously voted to clean up a nuisance property at 208 Deer Springs Drive. The property has been on the county’s radar for at least five years due to numerous complaints about extreme trash buildup and potential health and environmental hazards.

The court made its decision during a regular meeting on Tuesday, May 14, greenlighting the “abatement” process. County work crews will clean up the property, located in Precinct 1, and bill the landowner for the cost. A lien will be placed on the property until costs are reimbursed.

Abatements are not common in Burnet County, said Precinct 1 Commissioner Jim Luther Jr. This is the first one he has overseen since he took office in 2017. The cleanup will be paid for from the Precinct 1 road and bridge budget.

“It’s a long process that has to work through the court system,” Luther told “We can only afford to do so much, but I think people need to know that we are serious about cleaning up these types of areas.”

The county does not yet have an estimate on how much the cleanup will cost. County employees and equipment will be used to complete the job.

Burnet County Sheriff’s Office Environmental Crimes Officer Paul Kowalik has been dealing with the Deer Springs Drive property since 2019. He started the abatement process over two years ago. 

“There have been continuous, constant complaints,” Kowalik told the court on Tuesday. “The only way it’s going to get resolved is if we do it ourselves.”

Kowalik enforces the Texas State Health and Safety Code on behalf of the county, and the property at 208 Deer Springs Drive reportedly violates numerous aspects of Chapter 343 of the code, which details “public nuisances.”

Some of the language from Chapter 343 defines a public nuisance as:

“Keeping, storing, or accumulating rubbish, including newspapers, abandoned vehicles, refrigerators, stoves, furniture, tires, and cans, on premises in a neighborhood or within 300 feet of a public street for 10 days or more, unless the rubbish or object is completely enclosed in a building or is not visible from a public street.”

The regulations are specifically for unincorporated areas. According to Kowalik, cities may have far more restrictive and enforceable ordinances. The county’s powers are limited to state laws.

“My authority is given to me by the Texas Health and Safety Code,” he explained. “We’re much more lenient than (city) code enforcement.”

Kowalik expects the cleanup will begin sometime in the summer, which will give the property’s occupants a final chance before the county steps in. 

“I’ve been communicating with the residents on the property, and they’re aware of what’s going to happen,” Kowalik told the court. “They’ve been very cooperative, but the (state of the property) has not improved at all.”

2 thoughts on “Burnet County gets serious on nuisance property cleanup

  1. Burnet County offers a free clean up opportunity twice per year, in April and October. Each event accepts batteries, oil, paint, tires and electronics. The October event also accepts Household Hazardous Waste items. The events are publicized through local media.

  2. When Burnet County owns the property they can cleanup whatever they want to. Until then leave the landowner alone. Property rights are human rights. Maybe if there was somewhere people could take this old stuff that didn’t cost an arm and a leg it wouldn’t build up. Somewhere people can take hazmat would be nice too. You want a cleaner county, provide the opportunity. Many can’t afford to get rid of this type stuff and if you charge them they’ll just end up under foreclosure and lose their home for some over-reaching County BS.

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