Hidalgo County plans to target illegal dumping and weedy lots with a new program.

The Commissioners Court approved the new Hidalgo County Unincorporated Area Nuisance Abatement Program on Tuesday morning.

“It’s a great program,” said Precinct 2 County Commissioner Eddie Cantu. “And it’s badly needed.”

The program allows Hidalgo County to address problems on private property that threaten public safety.

McAllen, Edinburg, Mission and Pharr already have similar nuisance abatement programs.

City workers warn property owners about problems, including weedy lots, illegal dumping and brush that blocks drainage ditches.

If the property owner doesn’t fix the problem, city workers mow the lot or haul away the trash — and send the property owner a bill.

Hidalgo County, though, didn’t have a similar program.

“Lopezville is a great example,” Cantu said.

Located between Pharr and San Juan, the cluster of colonias faces the same problems as nearby city neighborhoods: Abandoned homes with weed-choked front yards and illegal dumping, which poses a health threat.

The new program allows Hidalgo County to help.

For example, Hidalgo County would route reports about a weedy lot in Lopezville to the Nuisance Abatement program.

A county worker would verify whether or not the weedy lot posed a threat to the health and safety of Lopezville residents.

Hidalgo County would attempt to contact the property owner after verifying the problem.

If the property owner doesn’t mow the property within five business days, Hidalgo County would send the owner a certified letter.

After Hidalgo County sends the letter, the property owner would have 31 days to mow the lot or request a hearing.

If the owner doesn’t mow the lot within 31 days, the Nuisance Abatement program would ask Precinct 2 workers to mow the property.

Hidalgo County would send a bill to the owner to cover the cost. Anyone who doesn’t pay within 60 days would have a lien placed on the property.

“We’re hoping this sends a message to the landowner who has obviously neglected their property, who is posing a threat to their neighbors,” said Precinct 4 County Commissioner Joseph Palacios.

Palacios said Hidalgo County wants to strike a careful balance between respecting private property rights and protecting rural residents from bad neighbors.

The Commissioners Court created the program and approved the policy on Tuesday.

County Operations Administrator J. Chris Treviño will manage the program, which should start within 45 days.

“I want to acknowledge Executive Officer Valde Guerra and the entire Commissioners Court for having the foresight to push for the creation of such a program for Hidalgo County residents,” Treviño said.

Treviño — the son of former Sheriff Lupe Treviño — started working for Hidalgo County in 1998 as a part-time clerk earning $5.15 per hour.

He graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and holds a master’s degree in public administration.