New ordinance allows cleanup of nuisance properties

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Jones County now has a new ordinance that would result in the rehabilitation and cleaning up of abandoned properties.

     Cities within the county, and the county itself, will ultimately benefit from the “Jones County Tax Sale Ordinance.” The purpose is to allow cities and the county to bid for and purchase tax sale certificates on abandoned property or vacant lots. These properties, if not maintained properly, would likely become public nuisances.

     In mid-June, Olin city officials Becky McAtee and Jean McPherson brought the idea to the attention of County Treasurer Amy Picray, whose office handles tax sales. In turn, Picray brought it to the board of supervisors’ attention, who then asked Picray to explore a proposed ordinance and run it by County Attorney Phil Parsons.

     “I think it’s a good idea to implement,” shared Parsons. “I don’t see any issues with it.”

     Picray agreed. “I see this as a good thing. It gives the cities another avenue to clean up properties and get them back on the tax list. It definitely helps the cities out.”

     Picray said this process of going through the ordinance makes it easier and less costly than going through the court system.

     Picray said the new county ordinance is pretty much verbatim with the state code. She said the nuisance property, once cleaned up, would still have to be sued for housing purposes.

     “You can’t use this ordinance is you intend to do something different than housing,” she said. “It could be a case-by-case basis to determine what qualifies as housing.”

     “This is always a good thing for us,” commented McPherson.

     “This is a good ordinance,” praised Supervisor Wayne Manternach.

In other county business:

     • The board visited with Land Use Administrator Michele Lubben regarding the county sign ordinance, specifically to allow a businesses such as the Jones County Roadhouse to have two wall signs on the building.

     “The Planning and Zoning is not interested in changing the regulations,” explained Lubben. “It seems like every time someone has a problem, whether intentionally or unintentionally, you want to change the rules to accommodate them.”

     The owner of the Roadhouse, Rick Ellison, was issued a civil citation because the number of signs on his property violates the sign ordinance. Lubben said Ellison knew of the qualifications.

     “I don’t think that’s how we want to operate,” said Lubben, “bending the rules for one person.”

     Lubben said the sign ordinance has changed several times in the past five years.

     Jones County Economic Development Director Dusty Embree said she feels the ordinance prohibits the growth of business in the county.

     “I think it’s good we have an ordinance,” said Embree, “but we want to also be business friendly. There has to be a good solution, and I’d like to see more research on what’s fair and what makes sense.”

     Embree said the number one complaint she hears from perspective businesses is the restrictive sign ordinance.

     The next P&Z meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 6 p.m.

     • The board approved plans and specs for the Secondary Road Shop in Wyoming.

     • The board approved an application for TSIP (Traffic Safety Improvement Program) funding for the County Road E-45 overlay project.


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