Charles City Council hears update on nuisance properties
By James Grob, email@example.com
The Charles City Council received a status update on nuisance properties in the community at its Aug. 23 meeting.
The council heard updates on 16 abated nuisance structures and heard information regarding 10 additional structures in progress or potential nuisance properties for 2021.
Nuisances in Charles City are defined as “Whatever is injurious to health, indecent, or unreasonably offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property so as essentially to interfere unreasonably with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property is a nuisance.”
In 2017, the Charles City Council passed a chronic nuisance ordinance modeled after similar legislation in other communities, which enables the city to bring nuisance issues to the attention of landlords.
The ordinance allows the city to assess charges against owners of properties that have chronically received nuisance complaints. Iowa Code Chapter 657A allows Charles City to take ownership of abandoned nuisance homes.
Property nuisances can also include — but aren’t limited to — offensive smells, filth or noisome substances, impeding passage of a navigable river, water pollution, blocking public and private ways, billboards interfering with the view, storing of flammable junk, air pollution, weeds and brush, Dutch elm disease, airport air space encroachment and houses of ill fame.
ABATED NUISANCE STRUCTURES TO DATE:
111 HAWKINS AVE. — This tri-plex structure is currently being renovated. Two of the three units are currently rented, work will start soon on the third. Exterior improvements include removing deteriorating paint and complete removal of junk and junk vehicles from the property.
207 9th AVE. — House was destroyed by fire. House has since been removed and work has begun to rehabilitate the lot. Lot has a desirable three stall garage on it. Will continue to monitor the lot to ensure remaining small nuisance items are removed.
301 S. JOHNSON ST. — This was an overgrown property that was lacking maintenance and was owner occupied. *City staff worked with the owner to coordinate a controlled burn by the fire dept. The lot is now owned and maintained by an adjacent property owner.
312 15th AVE. — This duplex was a vacant former rental property. Property had developed severe roof deterioration and subsequently collapsed on one side. City has since acquired the property and structure has been removed.
405 5th AVE. — This property sat vacant for a number of years as a result of foreclosure. After being purchased to be a new rental property a new roof has been installed, repairing the old roof that had holes and general deterioration. Some interior updates were performed as well.
413 16th AVE. — This property has been vacant for a number of years. House sat for years with a tarp on the roof to protect the interior from the elements. *Current owners have installed a new roof, windows, and are in the process of finishing new siding.
1407 E ST. — This property has also sat vacant for a number of years. New roofs have been installed on the house and garage, replacing a deteriorated roof on the house that had been covered by a tarp to keep the elements out.
506 S. JOHNSON ST. — This property has been vacant for years. Property has been owned by the adjacent property owner since 2004. Owner has recently demolished the structure.
507 WRIGHT AVE. — House was generally unsafe and rehabilitation was being attempted by the owner. The property eventually was voluntarily turned over to the City by the owner. *Demolition was performed and the property was acquired by an adjacent property owner.
515 18th AVE. — This property was vacant for years. Property was deteriorating to the point that it was starting to collapse. Property was purchased by the current owner, demolished, and is currently being rebuilt as a single family dwelling.
607 S. JOHNSON ST. — This has been a vacant structure for years with a chronic history of nuisance violations. Through extensive work from staff, this property was turned over to the City through court proceedings and legal action. Presently awaiting demolition.
806 N. GRAND AVE. — This property sat vacant for a number of years in a general state of disrepair and deterioration. The City was recently able to acquire the property and it has since been demolished.
1204 COURT ST. — Property became vacant after the 2008 flood event. Was in severe disrepair and the City inspected it through a court order. Eventually was sold to the current owner who demolished it and maintains the lot.
1309 F ST. — Property sat vacant for years after a fire destroyed the interior. Property got to the point that it was deteriorating and the front porch roof collapsed. Has since been demolished.
1901 CLARK ST. — This house was a former rental property that was becoming deteriorated. Yard of this property had chronic nuisance conditions. Property owner worked with the City to perform a controlled burn of the structure. Lot is still currently owned and maintained by the same owner today.
1911 CLARK ST. — Property sat vacant for many years in various stages of rehabilitation. City was able to acquire this parcel and was responsible for the demolition. City still retains ownership and maintains the lot, with hopes to incorporate it into the bike trail in the future.
STRUCTURES IN PROCESS AND POTENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR 2021:
311 4th AVE. — This structure has been vacant since the early 2000s after fire destroyed the original house. At last inspection, the interior still needed to be finished. Exterior finish has not been completed, integrity of the wall sheeting that is exposed is uncertain.
400 BLOCK OF RICHINGS ST. — (potential) — Water has been shut off since 2018 and has presumably been vacant for just as long. Property has chronic issues with long grass and weeds.
100 BLOCK OF N. IOWA ST. — (potential) — House has long sat vacant. City deals with complaints of rodent harborage. Owner seals openings as needed.
500 BLOCK OF HULIN ST. — This structure is undergoing a major exterior rehabilitation at this time. Rehab includes removal of deteriorated paint and repainting, all new roofing, and all new windows.
506 S. JOHNSON ST. — This owner adjacent property has been vacant for a long time. Owner has done a demolition of this structure with plans of building a garage in its place.
515 6th AVE. — The now vacant property here has been a habitual nuisance for a long time. City is currently exercising legal action to acquire and rehabilitate this parcel.
1100 BLOCK OF COURT ST. — (potential) — This structure has been vacant since at least the 2008 flood. Neighbors have been seeing an increase of rodents, including woodchucks entering the structure.
1800 ROLFING ST. — This structure has sat vacant and in disrepair for a long time. The City is currently working with the owner to acquire this property and turn it into a buildable parcel.
602 S. IOWA ST. — Notice has been sent to the owner of this property. Staff has initiated legal and abatement action at this property.
900 BLOCK OF CLINTON ST. — (potential) — Structure has been vacant for some time. Staff works annually on outside property clean-up.