The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

April 10, 2013

Negating nuisances

OTTUMWA — All it takes is one house to contribute to a neighborhood's breakdown.

This week, the Ottumwa City Council discussed changes to the city's nuisance ordinance, which has not seen significant changes since 1961.

Those changes include citizens keeping too many items outside their homes (often covered in tarps), installation of electric fences along public sidewalks, parking in front yards, using toilets or bathtubs as "decorative" planters in front yards, continuous garage or yard sales and parking commercial trucks in driveways overnight or leaving refrigerated trucks or engines running overnight.

"What we see a lot of is people have more stuff than they have space to store it in," said Jody Gates, director of health, inspections and solid waste, which results in some placing tarps over and around the extra "stuff" in their yards in order to conceal it from inspectors.

Last year, the health department received more than 1,200 nuisance complaints. More than 200 complaints were filed about junk cars.

Councilman Brian Morgan worried that it's easy to make an ordinance but difficult to enforce it.

Nuisances result in civil citations, which are $250 for the first, $500 for the second and $750 for the third and subsequent violations.

"There's really nothing more we can do except in situations where a nuisance needs to be abated or cleaned up," Gates said. "At that point, we initiate a cleanup where we send people to the property and collect all the things that are a problem and dispose of them. Then we send a bill to the property owner, and if it doesn't get paid, it's assessed to their property taxes."

Gates said she wants people who call into the health department to begin filing formal complaints.

"It's going to take a complaint because the health department doesn't have staff out on a 24/7 shift, so we wouldn't notice," she said. "And the police department isn't going to be in your neighborhood except when you call them.

Text Only
Ottumwa
  • 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

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National