County pursues nuisance cleanups

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Jones County Supervisors are aggressively pursuing cleanup efforts of three reoccurring nuisances within the county.

     During the March 23 board of supervisors meeting, Land Use Administrator Michele Lubben presented three ongoing property nuisances to the board, seeking direction on the next course of action. Those properties included:

     • 12653 Davenport St., Center Junction, owned by Michael and (Randy, deceased) Williams

     • 13461 Ramsey Rd., Anamosa, owned by Jerrid Boge

     • 24052 Ridge Rd., Anamosa, owned by Faron Fritz

     Specifically concerning the Center Junction property, Lubben said the owner has been taken to court, which ordered cleanup of the property and fined Williams a $500 civil citation, which has yet to be paid. Lubben said Williams’ son, Chris, is the one contributing to the nuisance situation.

     “The court would reduce the penalty if it was cleaned up,” noted Lubben. “But that didn’t happen.”

     The supervisors asked County Attorney Kristofer Lyons what the court could do under these circumstances. Lyons said there is nothing the court can do.

     “They don’t have a collection service,” he said.

     Lubben said, as has happened in the past with such nuisances as the Langworthy Locker, the county could pursue cleanup efforts and assess the costs to the property owner through property taxes.

     The board felt this was the best course of action, not only with the Williams’ property, but in regards to Boge and Fritz as well. Lubben said the county would have to seek bids for cleanup to bring the properties into compliance. Once bids were awarded, Lubben would send a courtesy letter to the owners informing them of the county’s decision.

     “It’s time to move forward,” commented Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach. “We’ve exhausted all avenues.”

     Zirkelbach said he’s received calls from neighboring property owners in Center Junction complaining about the condition of the Williams’ home.

     Supervisor Jeff Swisher asked if the county budgeted money toward nuisance cleanups. Auditor Whitney Hein said nothing had been appropriated for FY 2021 or 2022. However, the board could always approve a budget amendment.

     “When the owners pay their fines,” explained Lubben, “the money goes into that line item (for nuisance cleanups).”

     Supervisor Joe Oswald asked if vehicles could be part of the cleanup. Lubben said that would be up to the board on what constituents the nuisance.

     In addition, Lubben said she had 15 other nuisance issues that are due on April 1, meaning the owners have all had the initial 30 days plus another 30-day extension over the winter to clean their properties up.

     “These won’t get any better,” Swisher said.

     Both Swisher and Schlarmann were in agreement that the county needed to seek bids on all three reoccurring properties, giving the county “teeth in the game.”

     “It’s not fair to the property owners next door,” added Oswald.

     The board approved Lubben seeking contractor bids, due on April 27.


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