September 17, 2014

Council addresses property upkeep City Council addresses fee increases, street repairs

By Annette Tait
The Housing Authority is making good on its promise to follow through on efforts to enforce city ordinances relating to property upkeep. At the regular city council  meeting Sept. 4, Council Member Keith Erhardt reported that initial notices have been sent to property owners to advise that needed clean-up work will have to be done.
City Attorney John Mahoney noted that the Housing Authority will need to follow legal process in order to be able to enforce its requests.
“I know we want things to look cleaned up,” Mahoney said, “but we need to be specific.”
Mahoney’s statement prompted discussion as to what is considered unacceptable. Council Member Dallas Morast noted that the Housing Authority needs to address junk items that do not normally belong in a yard or around the outside of a house. Excessively tall grass and junk vehicles fall under other city ordinances.
Mahoney advised the Housing Authority that a legal notice will be required, with each individual letter addressing the specific actions the Housing Authority expects of the property owner, including the items to be removed.
“Then it comes down to the same process as for the [junk] cars, where they can request a hearing before council if they disagree with what is specified in the letter,” Mahoney said.
Housing Authority members will compile property-specific lists, then work with Mahoney on legal notices. Where junk cars are involved, the Sheriff’s department will be notified in order to tie the two complaints together.
Morast and Council Member J.D. Hanson recently met with the Sheriff’s department regarding the junk cars. The majority of the owners have been served citations.
“We all feel that this will be an ongoing issue,” Hanson said. “There will always be at least one car that won’t be registered or is sitting there.”

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