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Local News

March 19, 2010

Council gives 'nuisance property' owners 30 days to clean up their act

An anonymous letter sent to City Hall asked the council to discuss several properties near the Centerville Square labeled as a "nuisance.” The city had received complaints about the properties in the past.

CENTERVILLE — The Centerville City Council Monday night gave several property owners 30 days to address issues raised in an anonymous letter and from other complaints received at City Hall.

The letter asked the council to look at so-called "nuisance property" at 223 and 227 E. Van Buren St., 412 N. 12th St. and adjoining properties and in the 200 block of East Washington Street. The letter said property owners should be held accountable for the appearance of their property and asked if the city had an ordinance for automobiles setting idle for a period of time.

George Johnson, the city's building and code compliance officer, pointed out one property on East Van Buren Street is utilized by Campbell Body Shop, which is zoned for commercial. In the past the city has received a lot of complaints about the property and about the condition of the vehicles on the premises. And the business does pose safety and health questions, he said.

Next to the body shop at 227 E. Van Buren St. is a rental property, which does pass minimum housing standards, Johnson said. He said he has been after the owners for the last two years to keep the property presentable.

"And unfortunately their taste is different then the majority of the people in town," Johnson said. "I can make them move trash. I can make them clean up to a point. But I can't choose their decor that they put on their porch or their yard."

Dave McCann, the owner of 412 N. 12th St., said he operates a business that requires a lot of heavy equipment. He said they have changed and improved the property and want to continue the working relationship his business has with the city.

He asked how far he has to go to satisfy the council.

"At what point does it end? Until all of my equipment is gone," McCann said. "I need to know what the expectations are."

Wallace "Moe" Carter said if he complied with the ordinance he wouldn't have any issues with the city.

Larry Stufflebeem, the owner of the property in the 200 block of East Washington, briefly talked to the council about the pending decision.

It was decided to have Johnson revisit the properties to see if any health or safety issues have been made and file a report in 30 days. But if no progress is made, the city will take steps to enforce the regulations.

In other action:

• The council 5-0 approved the first reading of an ordinance to amend the Hazardous Vegetation chapter of the city code by adding offensive or nuisance wildlife and rodent harborage to the title. The ordinance also adds a section to the code that prohibits in, under or outside any structure or property conditions conducive to the multiplication of or continued existence of offensive or nuisance wildlife and rodents and includes but is not limited to feral cats, wild dogs, skunks, raccoons, opossums, rats and mice. The ordinance adds a section to allow for fines for non-compliance.

"It shall be unlawful for any person to place, leave, dump, or permit to accumulate any garbage, rubbish, or trash in any structure or on any property so that the same may afford harborage for any of the above listed offensive or nuisance (creatures) wildlife and rodents," the ordinance states.

If material or articles constitute a harborage, they must "be placed upon racks elevated not less than 18 inches above the ground and evenly piled or stacked." The ordinance does exempt "neatly stacked firewood or properly maintained compost piles and bins."

The council will listen to the second reading of the ordinance at its next meeting.

City Clerk Kris May said the ordinance should solve problems the city is having with certain properties.

"Like the issue at one of the Van Buren properties is the house and we currently do not have a code to enforce that," May said.

• By a 5-0 vote the council approved a 28E agreement with Appanoose County Coalition for the Arts. The agreement requires the city to handle any grants ACCA may receive.

• By a 5-0 vote the council approved an engineering agreement with French Reneker Associates and a grant application for the the preparation of an environmental assessment related to the purchase of approximately 49 acres of land to meet Federal Aviation Administration standards for building restriction line and runway protection zones at the Centerville Municipal Airport. Work on the project should begin in June.

* Three other agenda items dealing with Kathy Bratz, airport manager's job description, Airport Commission duties and responsibilities and the airport agreement with the city were tabled until the council's April 19 meeting.

• The Pony Express is scheduled to come through Centerville April 2.

• Joyce King was scheduled to appear to discuss dogs running loose but she did not show. So the issue is scheduled to be discussed at the next council meeting.

• The issue Wendell DeVore brought up about no parking on both sides of North 13th from Orchard Street to Madison Street was tabled until the next council meeting.

• The council decided by a 5-0 vote to apply for a United States Department of Agriculture grant for road, wastewater and library. The application seeks a $100,000 grant with a 25 percent city match.


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