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Nuisance vehicles top city council agenda again

Staff writer

Peabody’s inoperable vehicle ordinance was on the agenda Monday night at regularly scheduled Peabody City Council meeting.

In November, Alice Morris was asked for an explanation of a citation she received from a city police officer requiring her to move a vehicle on her property. The vehicle was tagged, insured, and in running condition, but had been parked behind a shed when her son got another car to drive back and forth to college. The car had not been moved in several months.

Morris was told that vehicles that remain stationary for months on end attract the attention of the public officer in charge of keeping track of ordinance violations. Morris and the council discussed the terminology in the citation and Morris was informed a vehicle which is moved from time to time and which meets the other requirements would be considered operable and no citation would be issued.

Council members admitted the ordinance wording is vague and could be construed as meaning a suspect vehicle only needs to be pulled forward three or four inches to fulfill the requirement of moving it.

Council member Janice Woodruff requested additional discussion of the ordinance at Monday’s meeting because of the large number of complaints she had received in response to Morris’ appearance before the council Nov. 11.

“We need to re-visit this because we have a whole lot of unhappy residents,” Woodruff said. “Nothing we have ever done here has raised so many objections from so many people, at least not for me. I have actually been yelled at over this issue — even at work!

“If we decide this is

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legitimate concern, then it needs to be spelled out more clearly so people understand what they need to do and why,” she said. “Right now, people are unhappy because the whole thing is not clear and it seems petty to them.”

After discussion, the council agreed to put it on the next agenda when Police Chief Bruce Burke will be present and review the wording at that time. Burke serves as the public officer in charge of reviewing nuisance properties and vehicles.

In other business:

  • City administrator Mac Manning reported an issue with employee FICA payroll taxes that were incorrectly assessed during the third quarter of the year. Manning said City Treasurer Leah Ottensmeier had used only 4.2 percent for the employee’s share rather than 6.2 percent. The formula was to have changed in July, but the percentage was not raised. The council agreed to charge current employees a small increase until the amount is made up. The shortage for seasonal employees will be much less and will be assessed during future months of employment.
  • Council member Tom Schmidt told the council that Jim Ralston of APAC was in town during the past week to review the list of planned street repairs. He will report back to Manning after the first of the year.
  • Mayor Larry Larsen reviewed the demolition of the Butler building. The building is down, the debris has been removed, the foundation filled in, and fill dirt added to the property. Larsen said the subcontractor who spread the fill dirt inadvertently knocked the top off of a water meter pit for the house to the north belonging to Cynthia Gibbs. On Monday morning, Gibbs had no water and the error by the subcontractor was discovered. The pit was repaired and water service restored with no broken pipes or other problems.

The council meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 30 in the city building.

Last modified Dec. 12, 2013

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