Alabaster outlaws stagnate water

In light of concern about the West Nile Virus, the city of Alabaster is taking legal steps to control the spread of mosquitoes.

At Monday night’s meeting, the council amended its nuisance ordinance to include standing water.

Under the amended ordinance, it is now unlawful for any person to permit their premises, vacant or not, to &uot;keep, maintain, cause, permit … anybody or collection of water in containers or other vessels containing or likely to contain water, either standing or flowing, under those conditions or circumstances as may permit or favor the propagation or reproduction of mosquitoes.&uot;

Presently, violation of the ordinance means arrest and a fine up to $500, said Alabaster Mayor David Frings. However, the council also set a public hearing for Sept. 16 to additionally amend the ordinance to limit enforcement to fines.

Frings said money in terms of fines is not the purpose of the ordinance.

&uot;It is the awareness,&uot; he said. Frings said the city will not be monitoring people’s birdbaths; however, if there is a complaint, the city has to have some means to deal with it.

Frings said most people don’t want to hurt anybody. However, he said, without an ordinance there would be no point in responding to complaints.

It was reported at the meeting that tires and birdbaths are not excluded from the ordinance. However, as long as water is kept fresh, it should not be a problem.

Also in answer to questions about standing water on highway right-of-ways and construction sites, Mayor Frings said the city will place larvacide tablets there to kill mosquitoes.

Councilmember Henry Hines said, &uot;Any ordinance we pass, 90 percent of the people are going to abide. It is only that 10 percent. We’re not trying to knit-pick. But we’re after health.&uot; He said that in light of the West Nile Virus, &uot;We’ll have to have something to handle that 10 percent.&uot;