Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1213952

Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 23, 2014

Council to proceed with property and rental ordinances

By David Hotle | Jul 17, 2014

After hearing four complaints from community members about eyesore properties in town, the Washington City Council reported Tuesday evening that an ordinance designed to help clean up Washington is in the works.
During the meeting, residents told council members about vehicles without license plates in people’s yards and houses in disrepair. Some questions were redirected to building and zoning administrator Steve Donnolly. Mayor Sandra Johnson said that she had informed local law enforcement about some of the incidents that, she said, violated city codes. Council member Bob Shellmyer said that there was an incident a resident brought up that had been going on for two years and hadn’t been resolved.
“I just wanted to tell you I haven’t seen any improvement in my neighborhood and I was hoping by now something would have happened,” resident Janet Caldwell said. “We used to be the town of flowers and trees. Now, we mostly seem to be the city of derelicts and weeds.”
Council member Kathryn Salazar, the chair of a subcommittee reviewing two ordinances dedicated to property maintenance and rental inspections, said that a draft ordinance for rental properties would come before the council next month for review.
Caldwell said that she had heard landlords were “running the committee.” Salazar said that three of the eight members are landlords. She said that she doesn’t feel the landlords had been running the committee. She also invited Caldwell to attend the meetings.
City administrator Brent Hinson said that the city has been active in working to abate nuisances. He said that there were two houses – one on South Seventh and one on South Ninth – that the city is working on abandonment proceedings on. The owners were sent a 60-day notice and city attorney Kevin Olson will file for the city to take title of the properties. He also said there is another major abatement at a house on South D Avenue and one on Marion Avenue.
“We have spent a lot of energy to get some of these major issues taken care of,” Hinson said. “There is still a lot out there. We are continuing to work and get progress done on those.”
He also said that in the budget for the fiscal year that started July 1, money for a part-time code enforcement position was included.
On July 18, 2013, the former housing improvement task force presented its findings to the Washington City Council. Four subcommittees gave reports from the research they had done and made suggestions to the council of possible solutions to problems identified.

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