Peabody City Council members agreed Monday night to become more proactive when dealing with people who repeatedly violate nuisance property ordinances.
“I have had too many people approach me and ask why we aren’t doing more to make this person or that clean up his property,” council member Tom Schmidt said. “If we are going to have these regulations on the books, we need to enforce them.”
The nuisance property ordinances allow the city to move ahead with abatement on repeat offenders. The city is not required to send a certified letter of notification or allow time for an appeal or public hearing by the property owner.
“We are seeing some of these names for the second, third, or fourth time,” council member Steve Rose added. “We should act on them as the ordinance allows.”
City Administrator Mac Manning also noted that if the property was a rental, the notice of abatement needed to go to the owner, not the person renting it.
Peabody Health and Safety Officer Tammy Whiteside presented the council with a list of chronic offenders of the nuisance property ordinance and council members agreed to move ahead and abate them.
Abatement can mean anything from cleaning up specific areas of blight to tearing down a structure that is dangerous or creates an attractive nuisance. If the property owner refuses to comply with the order, the city can do it or hire someone to do it and assess the cost to the property owner. If the property owner refuses to pay, the law allows the city to charge the abatement cost to his property taxes.
Manning and Whiteside will send letters to the owners telling them when the abatement will take place.
Another discussion came up after council member Pam Lamborn asked who authorized the removal last week of a Bradford pear tree in front of the Baker buildings.
“There was a problem with a Westar power line,” Manning said. “The tree had caused problems before with that line and they wanted it either severely trimmed or removed.”
After considerable discussion about the decision making process, the council agreed to require that Peabody Main Street design committee approve any changes to the physical face of the downtown historic district before such changes take place.
“There is a streetscape plan in place that needs to be checked when things like this come up,” Schmidt said. “The tree could have been trimmed to accommodate the line until we had time to see where the money would come from to remove the stump and fix the sidewalk which is now a real hazard.
“We all agree the trees have become a nuisance because of what they are doing to the sidewalks and because of the bird droppings. However, to tear them out without a reasonable plan to fix the rest of the problem isn’t smart,” he added.
Council members voted unanimously to turn the issue over to Peabody Main Street to review the streetscape plan and address what to do with the rest of the trees and other physical issues in the downtown area.
In other business:
- The council expressed its appreciation to Duke Eldridge and Kevin Koslowsky for spending a day power washing the cut limestone wall and bleachers on the home side of the football stadium at the park. “It’s a tremendous improvement,” said Mayor Larry Larsen. “They are to be commended.”
- Council members un-animously repealed a 1982 ordinance that created an intangibles tax on savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and other accounts that accumulated interest.
- Manning told the council the new street surface on Plum Street is cracking badly along the west side from Second to Eighth streets. Jim Ralston of APAC will be in Peabody next week to review the problem.
- Manning also said he has had meetings with FEMA representatives on the June 2010 flooding downtown. He said of the $11,000 in claims, FEMA would pick up about 85 percent of the cost.
- Council heard that the Peabody Main Street board elected Susie Schmidt as president at the September meeting.