CHARLES CITY | A new ordinance that passed a third and final reading at a Charles City Council meeting earlier this week will allow the city to more actively combat "chronic nuisance" properties in town.
Council members unanimously passed Ordinance No. 1111 on Monday night, which amends Chapter 52 in the city code. According to the ordinance, a "chronic nuisance property" is one where nuisance activities have occurred at least three times in the past 12 months, and require a law enforcement response.
It can be any residential or commercial property, except for city-owned properties, which are exempt. It is not related to the ordinance proposed by the SoFar group, which would allow landlords to keep a log of all residents living in their properties. That proposal has not been discussed in a city meeting.
City Administrator Steven Diers said a nuisance activity can range from fights, illegal drug activity, assaults or other similar violations.
He added that after two such incidents, the police can notify the property owner that the property will become a "chronic nuisance property" after the next offense.
If a third incident occurs, he said, police will issue another notice. If the owner fails to respond, the property owner will be fined at least $750.
"This is something we've been working on for nine to ten months," Diers told the Globe Gazette by phone Thursday. "And we have certain properties where there always seems to be junk vehicles or a fight breaks out, stuff like that ... that's really the point of this ordinance."
Council members have been supportive it, including DeLaine Freesman.
"I think it's a step in a good direction for us," Freesman said at Monday's meeting, before motioning to continue with its final reading.
Freesman did not return two calls or an email for comment on Thursday.
Diers told the Globe Gazette the ordinance was modeled after other similar versions throughout Iowa because of their success.
"It's based on what we've seen in other communities .... because you're on calls to that property," he said. "You're not dealing with the resident, but the property itself."
After the initial $750 fine, the city can fine up to $50 for each additional "nuisance activity" that requires law enforcement to respond, according to the ordinance.
Diers said the ordinance still needs to be finalized in the official city code, but said it was the culmination of a lot of planning and talks between city officials.
"We've had a lot of discussion on it," he said. "Once it gets published over the next couple of weeks, it will just come down to enforcing it."