By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Nuisance issues comprised much of Monday’s city council meeting, which included action to abate (clean up) two properties, declare a new site a nuisance and rescind four others.
In addition, property owners next door to the newly-declared nuisance attended the meeting to voice their concerns.
Here is the action taken regarding nuisances, all approved on 3-0 council votes:
Properties to be abated due to continued violation of city code—#22 at Winter’s Trailer Court and 1136 Grant St.
Newly declared nuisance—226 West 13th St.
Four properties removed as nuisances—Capitol Court #34, 418 West 5th St., 547 West 6th St., and 530 Wellington St.
Karl Elmshauser of West Central Nebraska Development District (WCNDD), the city’s nuisance officer, explained each property’s status at Monday’s meeting.
Drawing the most discussion Monday was the newly declared nuisance property at 226 West 13th St.
Neighbors Larry and Jeanette Munger, who operate a daycare next door, attended to comment on the property.
Mrs. Munger said they attended the meeting to voice their opinion the property is a nuisance. Both also wanted to know the process and what happens next.
Elmshauser, who reviewed the property, saying they can only do so from the street or alley, listed the following nuisance items relative to that property—unsecured building, sheds in back that need to come down and overgrown weeds.
The Mungers said no one has lived in the home since they moved next door in 1980.
Mrs. Munger added, “We feel it is a danger right next door to us and is a nuisance.”
She added they have put up a fence and “keep the little kids out of there.”
A previous inspection of the home determined it was structurally sound.
Elmshauser said it would have to be proven to be unsound to condemn it.
City Attorney Josh Wendell noted the city can’t condemn a property “because it’s ugly.”
The Mungers cited concerns of what’s inside the home, but Wendell added the city can’t go inside legally.
From here, the city will send a letter to the owner informing them the property was declared a nuisance. They will have time to respond and ask for a “show cause” hearing if they choose. Then the council can decide whether to give additional time for cleanup, if it remains a nuisance.
The Mungers also asked what happens if the property sells, and if it does, will the process have to start over.
Elmshauser and the city attorney said the nuisance declaration stays with the property even if ownership changes. He also noted a property can’t be assumed it’s abandoned because it’s vacant.
When the property comes up for sale due to nonpayment of taxes, that’s usually when it’s considered abandoned in Nebraska, Elmshauser added.
Wendell added there are also certain disclosures required in such sales and the sellers have some obligations.
Wendell said continued feedback from neighbors such as the Mungers is valuable if it comes to a “show cause” hearing or in future dealings with the property.
Regarding the two properties the council voted to abate, Elmshauser said they included unlicensed vehicles, weeds and trash, violating code.
Elmshauser has been in Imperial this week doing a full review. Over the past couple of years, WCNDD has done extensive property examinations by quadrants.
People with concerns about specific properties in the city limits can contact WCNDD, the city office or law enforcement, he said.
Other council business
- Mike Harris, interim administrator for the Imperial Manor and Parkview/Heights, informed the council RHD, which manages the facilities for the city, has hired a new administrator, Melissa Larson, who will start work Aug. 16. She will replace Sandra Palmer, who moved to another RHD facility in David City as administrator. In a short review of the past fiscal year that ended June 30, Harris said the facilities showed a $120,000 profit in 2012-13, largely due to much less Agency nursing care. For the year, $16,000 was spent on bringing in nursing care via agencies compared to $400,000 the year before. He noted no agency nursing was used the past nine months, “which is quite remarkable.” Per resident costs were also reduced by $10 a day. Harris also noted the most recent census of residents at the Manor is 42, the largest number in awhile.
- A special listing of fees was adopted as a resolution, basically consolidating all of the city fees into one “schedule.” City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland said the fees were listed in several different areas and this puts them all in one place. Fees for utility deposits, building permits, cemetery lots, recreation fees, city gym rental, etc., are among the fees listed.
- The council’s first meeting in September falls on Sept. 2, which is Labor Day, so the meeting was moved to the next night on Sept. 3.
- Two employees received raises following their six-month orientation periods. Community Development Director Jason Tuller’s salary was increased from $58,000 to $59,000 and public works employee Michael Westman went from $15 to $15.50 per hour.
- Administrator Leyland informed the council that Dana Point, the company planning to build rental and spec homes in the Cornerstone Commercial Park, is buying two additional lots. That will make a total of four lots, facing Holland St, for construction of four spec or rental homes, which will be in addition to the 10 others he is building along Second Street in the project the firm and city is working on together. Originally Matt Thomas of Dana Point planned to build just two other homes in a separate, private building project. She also noted the city had to postpone the closing on that property from Aug. 5 to Aug. 12 due to deed corrections needed on the original sale of the Cornerstone ground.
- A 40-minute closed session was held to discuss negotiation strategies regarding potential property for a new fire hall. The council has advertised a special meeting for next Tuesday, Aug. 13, so they can meet and attend the CCS board of education meeting to discuss possible land for the fire hall. Last month, the Wellington football field was discussed as a possible site.