Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1048250

Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 22, 2014

Nuisance ordinance likely to be amended

By David Hotle | Aug 26, 2013

A draft of changes to the city’s nuisance ordinance and the prioritization of Housing Improvement Task Force recommendations will be the topics discussed during a special session of the Washington City Council that is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Nicola-Stoufer meeting room at the Washington Free Public Library.  
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said that the task force had recommended changes to existing ordinances to allow easier enforcement.  Hinson said, for the purpose of discussion, he created an ordinance that blended many issues together in one. He said all the recommendations that would be discussed were the ones that related to the existing nuisance ordinance.
“We incorporated recommendations of the housing task force and we incorporated some process changes that we had been considering,” Hinson said.
Some of the changes include the amount of time trash can be in front of a residence, and the addition of attorney’s fees as something the city can recoup. The ordinance is about five pages long. The ordinance also establishes a committee of council members to hear appeals from people whose property has been declared unsafe.
Hinson said that some of the changes would impact the enforcements of houses that have had meth labs found. He said the changes would streamline the process.
The first draft of the ordinance will be discussed Wednesday. From there, it will be considered for a vote. Hinson said the ordinance may be discussed for several meetings. He believes on Sept. 18, the council would be ready for adoption of first reading.
“There is no reason to rush it,” he said. “We want to make sure we have plenty of time to discuss it.”
He said that many of the suggestions had already been discussed in council.
A straw poll that was done during a recent city council meeting to prioritize the task force recommendations had returned with the answer that the city should focus on being able to better enforce existing ordinances before any new ones are created.

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