Council okays one ordinance, still working on another one
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
One down and one to go.
Mt. Pleasant City Council members, during their regular meeting Wednesday night, adopted a new city general nuisance issue. The ordinance will become law once published.
Mayor Steve Brimhall said a second attempt at a junk vehicle nuisance should be presented to the council soon. The council struck down a proposed junk vehicle ordinance on its second reading at the Jan. 9 council meeting, saying that some definitions were too vague and others too stringent.
“We’re still continuing to work on the vehicle nuisance ordinance,” Brimhall told the council. “We are getting closer to having it before the council.”
He went on to note that it is impossible to write a perfect nuisance issue and many communities struggle with similar ordinances.
“There are just a lot of issues with neighbors not being too nice to their neighbors,” Brimhall remarked. “Every city has a tough time dealing with nuisance ordinances. Everybody tries to have a city that is nice and where people are proud to live.”
Under definitions in the general nuisance ordinance, the following would be considered nuisances (not all the provisions are listed, the complete ordinance is available at City Hall):
• Noxious weeds and other rank vegetation. Dense growth of all weeds, vines, brush or other vegetation in the city so as to constitute a health, safety or fire hazard.
• Accumulation of rubbish, trash, refuse, junk and other abandoned materials, metals, lumber or other things.
• Any real property which is in such a dilapidated conditions that it is unfit for human habitation, kept in such an unsanitary condition that it is a menace to the health of people residing in the vicinity thereof, presents a more than ordinarily dangerous fire hazard in the vicinity where it is located, or becomes so defective, unsightly, or in such condition of deterioration or disrepair that the same causes substantial depreciation of the property values of the surrounding properties or is materially detrimental to properties and improvements.
• The erecting, continuing or using of any building or other place for the exercise of any trade, employment or manufacture which, by occasioning noxious exhalations, offensive smells or other annoyances, becomes injurious and dangerous to health, comfort or property of individuals or the public.
• Any building, structure or other place or location where any activity which is violation of local, state or federal law is conducted, performed or maintained.
• The obstructing or encumbering by fences, buildings, or otherwise, of the public roads, private ways, streets, alleys, commons or burying grounds.
• Houses of ill fame, kept for the purpose of prostitution and lewdness.
• Gambling houses or houses resorted to for the use of drugs, or houses where drunkenness, quarreling, fighting or breaches of the peace are carried on or permitted, to the disturbance of others.
• Any object or structure hereafter erected within 1,000 of the limits of any municipal or regularly established airport or aerial place which may endanger or obstruct aerial navigation, unless such object or structure constitutes a proper use or enjoyment of the land on which it is located.
• Any accumulation of snow and/or ice upon the sidewalks or that portion of the sidewalk extended across a driveway which has not been removed within a reasonable time after a snowfall or storm.
• Any gathering or persons or vehicles upon a public street or sidewalk or any use of property abutting a public street or sidewalk which obstructs pedestrian or vehicular traffic or other lawful use of streets or sidewalks, except as permitted by permit or ordinance.
• Unoccupied buildings or unoccupied portions of buildings which are unsecured or abandoned.
• Billboards, signboards and advertising signs, whether erected and constructed on public or private property, which so obstruct and impair the view of any portion or part of a public street, avenue, highway, boulevard or alley or of a railroad or street railway track as to render dangerous the use thereof.
• The following items, when stored continuously in excess of 48 hours, on any portion of any property outside of a totally enclosed structure located on the property, in outdoor areas or in partially enclosed sheds, lean-tos or other structures not totally enclosed by structural walls, roof and properly functioning doors. Also, building materials not part of an active building project authorized by a current city building permit; auto parts; miscellaneous steel, plastic, rubber or metal parts or junk; tires, packing boxes, wooden pallets, tree limbs, brush piles, discarded lumber, not including neatly stacked and cut fire wood; broken or unused furniture and appliances, any upholstered or finished furniture intended for indoor usage such as couches, beds, mattresses, desks, chairs, shelving or wooden tables, other broken or unused furnishings or equipment including carpeting, appliances and other typical household items intended for indoor usage; plastic tarps, trash bags containing leaves, debris, garbage or other items, trash and garbage not properly contained within a trash disposal container; or any other discarded or miscellaneous item or items not normally required in the day-to-day use of the exterior areas of the property.
• Any attractive nuisance dangerous to children in the form of abandoned vehicles, abandoned or broken equipment, including abandoned refrigerators, hazardous pools, ponds, excavations, materials, including building materials, debris or neglected machinery.
• The causing of the accumulation of building debris and/or construction materials, tools, equipment or machinery on any property within the city limits of the city after the expiration of a building permit, the occasioning of which becomes injurious and dangerous to the health, comfort or property of individuals or the public.
• Creating, maintaining, causing of allowing to exist for a continuous period of more than 30 days, any man-made excavation hole, or other depression in the ground in or any lot of parcel of land in the city of a depth of more than three feet.
• Any hazardous thing or condition on property which may contribute to injury of any person present on the property, including, but not limited to, open holes, open foundation, open wells or cisterns or dangerous trees or limbs.
In other agenda items, the council approved an agreement with Midwest Precast Concrete (MPC) of Mt. Pleasant top allow the firm’s industrial effluent (waste such as oil and grease concentration, and regulated wastewater of heavy metals) to discharge into the city sanitary sewer system.
MPC was mandated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to either pre-treat their waste or negotiate a contract with the city to discharge its toxic waste into the city’s sanitary sewer.
Brimhall said this is not the first time the city has entered into such a contract with a local business. “We have used similar contracts with two other businesses,” he explained. “Clean water is the name of the game. We have the ability to take care of it. This is about keeping a business in Mt. Pleasant. We want to help our local businesses.”
Ryan Pilling’s appointment as the police department’s criminal investigator was approved by the council.
City Police Chief Ron Archer recommended the appointment. “Now that we are at full strength, we would like to fill the investigator position that has been vacant. He (Pilling) has the desire and ability to do the job,” Archer told the council.
Lt. Lyle Murray, also number-two officer in the department, was the investigator until being promoted last summer.
Pilling has been with the department since Sept. 12, 2012, and formerly was as Henry County Sheriff’s deputy. Pilling will be paid $20.40/hour in his new position.
In final action, the council:
• Approved Brimhall’s appointment of Martha Johnson to the library board to serve the remaining time of Sara Gray’s term, which expires July 1, 2016.
• Will have a public hearing at the next council meeting (Feb. 13) on the city’s application for a $500,000 community development block grant (CDBG) for the Union Block restoration project. The city is applying on behalf of Main Street Mt. Pleasant. Only government entities can apply for such grants, organizations cannot.
Council members meet again in regular session Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. at City Hall.