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Milwaukee homeowners alarmed by city's 24 hour cleanup notices

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Some Milwaukee homeowners are upset with the city about how it's enforcing a program to make neighborhoods cleaner.

Inspectors drive around seeking out garbage and debris violations when there are no complaints, then post notices that say the homeowner has 24 hours to correct the problem or they'll be fined.

In addition, the notice says that if the city is not contacted about the property being cleaned, it will send a contractor to do the work and will assess a fee even if the work's been done.

Connie Schmidt lives in Bay View and received a notice that she was in violation for some palettes and other wood materials next to her garage.

The big, bold, "You Have 24 Hours" surprised her.

"It was very distressing," Schmidt said. "I was very upset because we take care of our home."

Schmidt felt like she had no choice, so she got to work.

"[My husband and I] are older," she said. "We don't have any kids to help us. I hurt my back and I could not hardly move."

Schmidt's neighbor, Maria Longo, had an easier time bringing in an old couch from the sidewalk, but she was similarly panicked to receive the notice.

"It's almost like getting an eviction notice or something," Longo said. "What's this thing taped to my house?"

Christina Klose, a spokesperson for the city's Department of Neighborhood Services, told us this is not a new program, and it helps achieve the goal of keeping the city clean.

"This is much more proactive and more people will be taking care of their properties," Alderman Tony Zielinski said.

The urgency of the notice also might be exaggerated for effect.

"In actuality, almost all residents will be given a week to manage their clean-up," Klose said.

Schmidt and Longo feel the intent of the program is good, but it may not need to be so strict with homeowners right off the bat.

Klose and Zielinski both said the city will work with homeowners who need extensions on their cleanup deadlines.

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