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What’s A Nuisance?
May 18, 2017

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As the number of unsightly properties has grown in Emmetsburg, The City Council hopes to set a date for a public hearing to discuss the proposed new nuisance regulations for Emmetsburg (Chapter 50 of the Emmetsburg Code of Ordinances). The purpose of nuisance regulations is to maintain the comfort and safety of the community. The recommendation for additional regulations comes as a result of the increasing number of nuisance complaints in the City of Emmetsburg that the council has received.

The Finance Ordinance Personnel Committee met to discuss the growing number of nuisance properties on May 8 and to consider changes to the current nuisance code. The committee proposed new ordinances for the council to consider. The purpose of the new regulations is to better define what constitutes a nuisance as well as the processes and procedures for addressing these properties.

"Really, the philosophy was that private property not have a negative impact on the adjoining properties" stated City Councilman, Brian Campbell.

Nuisance areas may directly affect the comfort and health of surrounding properties, so it is in the community's best interest to have these nuisances abated.

A nuisance is defined in the City Ordinance as "whatever is injurious to health, indecent, or unreasonably offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property."

In the new proposal, the definition has been expanded to include "any condition that is allowed to exist and remain on a property that serves no essential purpose to said property and that, by the condition's very existence, adversely affects the comfortable enjoyment and/or value of the neighboring properties."

The city also expanded the conditions of a property that will qualify it is a nuisance including: offensive smells, filth or noisome substances, storage of flammable junk, appliances, tires, etc. Any functioning or non-functioning vehicle or vessels that are stored upon private property that are wrecked, rusted, dismantled or abandoned are considered to be nuisances.

Spring has arrived which means that weeds and grass are growing quickly. As part of the nuisance regulations weeds and brush are to be maintained so as not to constitute a health, safety, or fire hazard. Emissions of dense smoke, noxious fumes, or fly ash are considered to be nuisances under the Emmetsburg Code of Ordinances.

Nuisances should be abated as quickly as possible or the owner will risk city involvement.

Nuisance Abatement

As a result of the new ordinances, the city shall follow a set of procedures for addressing any nuisance properties.

If any property owner is in violation of the nuisance ordinance, they shall receive written notice. This notice is to include, a description of the nuisance, location, the acts that are necessary to abate the nuisance, timeline to abate the nuisance, and an assessment of the abatement cost. If the property is not abated within the timeframe provided, the city will intervene and abate the property at the owner's expense.

Should the owner not remedy the nuisance, they will be in direct violation of the nuisance section in the Code of Ordinances, which could result in condemnation of the property.

The council voted to move forward on the new regulations and to hold a public hearing regarding the new nuisance ordinances in the City of Emmetsburg. The public hearing date is to be determined, but the hearing will be open to the public for any concerns or questions one has regarding Chapter 50 of the Code of Ordinances. The council will meet May 22 at 6 p.m. at City Hall in the Council Chambers to set the date of the public hearing.

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