Lubben seeks advice on reoccurring nuisances

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     With several reoccurring nuisance properties throughout Jones County, Land Use Administrator Michele Lubben sought advice from the Jones County Supervisors regarding future abatements.

     At the Jan. 19 supervisor meeting, Lubben said those property owners go through the court process after being issued a civil citation to clean up their property and remedy the nuisance issue. They’re ultimately fined by the court and given so many days to abate the nuisance. However, Lubben said their properties still remain in disrepair. She asked whether the county would be interested in hiring a contractor to clean up the properties and assess the cost on the owners’ property taxes. In the case of a rental property, the cost would be assessed to the owner, who would be held liable.

     Supervisor Joe Oswald said he knows of one particular property in Amber that falls back into disorder after the owner has been taken to court.

     Lubben said in some cases, the owners don’t even pay the fines for up to a year.

     Supervisor Jeff Swisher said he would like to see the county work with the court system and the magistrate judge before hiring someone to come in and clean private property.

     “I’d like to see it stay with the court before we clean things up with the taxpayers’ money,” said Swisher.

     County Attorney Kristofer Lyons said the owners could be cited with contempt of court for not following through with the court’s order (addressing the nuisance).

     “But in some cases, to get the property actually cleaned up, the county would need to step in,” Lyons said.

     Supervisor Ned Rohwedder asked what would be done to the refuse after the cleanup.

     “Are we free from litigation if we take personal property?” he said.

     Lubben said the county would have to have its ducks in a row and a formal nuisance cleanup process in place before anything is done. She said she’s been working with Assistant County Attorney Amy Dollash on the nuisances.

     “This opens up a whole new area,” commented Rohwedder.

     Lubben informed the board that judges in the past have OK’ed the county going in and cleaning up private property with previous nuisance cases.

     “With a handful of reoccurring nuisances, we have no teeth,” she said of the lack of enforcement.

     “If it’s in the judges’ order, we can legally clean it up,” added Swisher.

     “Is it our responsibility to make sure the court follows through?” questioned Oswald. “I’d like to see us do something about it so Michele doesn’t have to keep going back.”

     Oswald said he’d also like to see the court follow through on the fines that are not getting paid.

     Lubben said if an offender does not pay their fines, it does impact them from getting or renewing their driver’s license.

     For the time being, the board of supervisors did not take action on this matter.


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