The Ottumwa Courier


June 11, 2013

Nuisance ordinance changes: nit-picky or too lax?

OTTUMWA — Changes to the nuisance ordinance are long overdue, but there needs to be some “gray area” where inspectors use discretion when issuing citations, say city officials.

One suggested change to the nuisance ordinance is prohibiting people from parking in the grassy areas of their front yards, said Health, Inspections and Solid Waste Director Jody Gates at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“I’m still not totally sold on this parking thing,” said Councilman Brian Morgan. “I understand the reasoning behind it; I really do. But how do we enforce this? There are even things in this nuisance ordinance that haven’t changed since 1961 and we have those problems all over town now, so we’re not able to enforce those now.”

Gates said she doesn’t have additional enforcement tactics to supplement her proposed ordinance changes besides responding to complaints and notifying property owners of ordinance changes with door hangers.

“... the only way to go after some more of this stuff in the code is to add more staff to you,” said Councilman Mitch Niner to Gates. “If we can’t afford to add more staff to you to really go out and tackle some of these, the least we could do is adjust words you’re running into problems with to help you do a better job.”

Gates said education is just as important.

“These changes may not seem very quick, but they’re more long-lasting ... once it becomes not the norm to park in your front yard,” she said. “Maybe it causes people to think we’re lax, but most of the time we let people know what the problem is and give them time to fix it, not just show up and write them a ticket. We’re trying to raise the livability of neighborhoods.”

The prohibition on “bathroom planters” will remain in the code, she said, though Morgan asked that inspectors and officers use discretion when issuing tickets, just as police officers do with speeding tickets.

Text Only
  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth

    OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • City Council approves sale of properties OTTUMWA — On Tuesday the Ottumwa City Council met for the last regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included in the agenda for the evening were several dispositions of city owned property. Structures and land located at 519 W. Fourth St., 723 E. Mar

    April 15, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0415 Right side up monster truck pic Nice driver --- mean machine OTTUMWA --- Drivers sat at one end of their vehicles during the "pit party," meeting fans and signing autographs before the motorsport and monster truck exhibition at Bridge View Center this weekend. Monster truck driver Orville Hill let kids --- and

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0415 OTT Composting ethical pic Recycling in a garden OTTUMWA --- Parents will tell you: They hate to see kids waste food. A gardner named Scott Koepke feels the same way. “First, let’s get our food to people who are going to eat it,” he said. “It hurts me to see kids in the schools throw away an entire

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0412 OTT Pothole color photo -T -M [Duplicate] A bumper crop of potholes OTTUMWA — The nice weather has been putting the bad roads on display. Officials say good: It gives us a chance to fix them. “Every city is going through the same thing,” said Larry Seals, Ottumwa Public Works director. “It has been an unusual winter

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home in a tent OTTUMWA -- As people live without shelter, they become desperate finding a place to sleep. The situation impacts more than just the community's homeless. "There is nowhere to put people who are homeless," said Mary Margaret Butler. "Nowhere." Ottumwa

    April 11, 2014

  • 0412 OTT Martha Speaks color photo -T -M Ottumwa children visited by cartoon star OTTUMWA — Iowa Public Television is celebrating its 45-year anniversary this year by helping communities like Ottumwa educate young children before they get into a school setting. One of the programs they are using to help reach out to children is by

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

AP National