LITHONIA, Ga - Dozens of angry homeowners are telling DeKalb County to butt out after they received warnings telling them to paint their homes.
Residents of the Marbut Commons neighborhood in Lithonia say more than 100 of them received notices to make their "structure livable" by replacing "signs of weathering" and other paint issues. The warnings note a maximum fine of $1,000 and possible jail time of up to 60 days for those who don't comply.
Tanya Mathis received one of the warnings.
"The county needs to know while some need it worse than others, you can't go through and tell people we're going to put you in jail," said Mathis.
Mathis admits the side of her home could use a fresh coat of paint to cover some faded spots, but doesn't believe it's the county's duty to tell her when to spruce up her home.
"If there were holes in my house or places were vermin were running around, it would be a problem," said Mathis. "This is faded paint. It's going to happen every year. If I paint it this year, next year do I get another citation?"
County spokesperson Burke Brennan says a code enforcement officer responded to a complaint of a home in need of fresh paint and noticed other homes that violated county ordinances regarding property maintenance.
"We're not trying to criminalize people," said Brennan. "We are trying to maintain a basic minimum standard of quality in our neighborhoods."
Brennan said the county sympathizes with those who are facing tough economic times, and said it's unlikely anyone will actually face jail time.
"We're sensitive to that and that's why we're taking great pains to work with residents in that area," said Brennan.
Some homeowners who received warnings have already painted their homes.
Others will meet with County Commissioner Lee May on Saturday to discuss the issue.