Two city property maintenance ordinances were amended and a new one was established during the Washington city council meeting Monday night.
The changes were made after a council administration/operations committee meeting where several unsightly properties were discussed.
At that meeting, City Counselor Mark Piontek said existing property maintenance codes establish procedures for structures deemed unsafe, unfit for living or unlawful. The previous codes, however, did not authorize building officials to take any action to repair unsightly buildings or clean up debris.
Weeds, Trash, Junk
The council approved an ordinance repealing a section of city code and enacting in lieu a new section pertaining to weeds and trash.
The ordinance states that people may not have grass, weeds or brush over 1 foot in height.
Those in violation will be given a hearing within four days of notice that the weeds or trash is a nuisance and order it to be abated within five days. If they are not removed, a special tax bill against the property will be prepared to be collected with other taxes assessed against the property.
Anyone who fails, neglects or refuses to cut and remove grass, weeds or brush within five days after the hearing will be given a fine not less than $50 and not more than $500.
The violation is deemed to be a new and separate offense for each and every day the condition continues after the fifth business day after the hearing.
Another ordinance approved also repeals one part of an ordinance in lieu of a new Chapter 235 of city code.
The ordinance refers to junk, which is defined as debris of any kind, weed cuttings, cut, fallen or hazardous trees and shrubs, overgrown vegetation, rubbish and trash, lumber not piled or stacked 12 inches off the ground, rocks or bricks, tin, steel, parts of derelict cars or trucks, broken furniture, any flammable material which may endanger public safety or is unhealthy or declared to be a nuisance.
The ordinance states that any junk located on any property, street or highway is a public nuisance and declares it unlawful to create or maintain a nuisance.
After a written violation notice is provided, the nuisance should be abated within seven days. Like in the last ordinance, a special tax will be added to the annual real estate tax bill for the property.
A new ordinance approved establishes regulations regarding abandoned motor vehicles, which includes any unattended or unlicensed motor vehicle, trailer, all-terrain vehicle, outboard motor or vessel.
Vehicles are to be removed or subject to removal from public or private property, whether or not they are operational.
The ordinance states that for any vehicle towed from the scene of an accident or at the request of the Washington Police Department and not retrieved by the vehicle owner within five days, the police department is required to write an abandoned property report or a criminal inquiry and inspection report.
Vehicles are not to be abandoned on the right of way of any public road or state highway or in any waters in the state or on banks of any stream or any land or water owned, operated or leased by the state, board, department, agency or commission thereof, or any political subdivision thereof or any land or water owned, operated or leased by the federal government or on any private real property owned by another without consent.
The police department has the authority to tow motor vehicles from real property that are deemed a public safety hazard or are derelict, junk, scrapped, disassembled or otherwise harmful to the public health.