Friday I received a notice from the Code Enforcement Division of Billings. It seems that we are accused of obstructing a city right of way with our gravel pile. I am hereby required to remove the gravel from the street within ten day of the notice. Failure to due so "will result in appropriate legal action by the City of Billings."
Now this is the part I love! "Violation of a City Ordinance or failure to comply with written notice of correction constitutes a misdemeanor." A MISDEMEANOR!!!!! for a gravel pile that is on the edge of the street and not protruding beyond the parked car that sits next to it??!!??!!
Oh, but it gets better..."Any person who fails to comply with the requirements of the City Ordinance 'shall upon conviction thereof be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both, and in addition shall pay all costs and expenses involved'." WOW! I certainly don't want to pay $500 because of stupid gravel!!! But now imprisonment...let's think about this one for a minute...no whining children?...no laundry?...no cooking?...no cleaning?...just sitting in a cell? what, you say there is not privacy? what is privacy? This a word that I do not comprehend. Do explain. I only have one choice of clothing - no decisions? I do hear orange is the hot color this summer.
oh, but there is more..." 'Each day such violation continues shall be considered a separate offense'." So if I don't have said gravel removed by the 8th of July, and still don't by the 12th of July I could be charged with 5 counts of a misdemeanor? for gravel?
Okay, now really it's not gravel. It's pretty river rock for my garden beds. It's not ugly. It has some beautiful green growth beginning because of the seeds that have planted themselves at the edge. The kids all love to play king of the mountain, so technically it's playground equipment. And did my neighbor who hasn't mowed his lawn in say, four weeks and now has thigh high growth receive a similar notice? or is his yard a natural habitat? I do have orange cones out surrounding this beautiful pile of river rock just in case some speeding driver happens to miss it when swerving with in two feet of the curb.
In light of the seriousness of this situation, I have been working for the past three days to rid ourselves of the "gravel pile". While it really doesn't seem that we've made much of a dent, there is a noticeable difference. I guess imprisonment probably wouldn't be as glamourous as it sounds and really I don't have an extra $500 laying around - I just purchased 17 tons of river rock for my garden beds.
The most humourous part of all of this...the letter was addressed to Mike's parents - because they own the house - we are just renting.