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June 10, 2014

Nuisance amendment: What it means

OSKALOOSA — There have been some questions lately about the city’s proposed amendments to the nuisance ordinance for Oskaloosa residents. Here’s how things break down.

There are actually two pieces of the ordinance that would be amended. The first involves the notice to abate. That's where the city formally tells the property owner, "There's a problem. Here's what it is. Here are the steps you need to take to resolve the issue."

That notice must be in writing, sent as a certified letter with return receipt to the last known address of the property owner. If that doesn't work, the city can either publish notices in two consecutive editions of the Herald, or post the notice on the property itself. Both satisfy the notification requirement.

The amendment adds a paragraph. If a nuisance exists at the same property for the same (or "substantially similar") issue within 12 months, the city can skip the notification and go straight to the municipal infraction stage. That means they can issue a citation without notification.

The second proposed amendment scraps an later section of the ordinance and replaces it, allowing the city to immediately act to remedy the nuisance if the nuisance is an immediate danger to health, safety, or welfare of those at the property, or if a notice was served within the previous 12 months. The costs of abatement may be assessed against the property taxes.

The second change also allows for the city manager to create a policy to handle abatement and sets a minimum charge of $250, plus administrative costs.

Here are pdf files of the ordinance as it stands, including what the city considers nuisances, and the proposed amendment.

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