Clean-up Sedalia panel works on final draft
During a meeting Tuesday the Citizens for a Clean Sedalia committee worked to finalize a proposed draft of recommendations it will give to the Sedalia City Council.
For the past few months the committee has looked at the weed, grass and trash problems within the city limits, working to find ways to tighten regulations and create a pro-active approach to enforcing code ordinances.
The recommendations were split into eight points, which included:
• Changing the height requirement for grass and weeds. Currently grass that is 12 inches or higher is in violation of city ordinance. The committee would like to see that lowered to 8 inches. The time abatement to fix the violation would be 21 days after some discussion with city staff about seeing that time shortened as well.
“By state statute, we have to give them so many days to respond to the first notice and to abate the problem,” said Chief Building Official Andy Burt. “We’re usually very quick about getting grass problems turned around and fixed.”
• Expanding the definition of rubbish to “furniture and appliances originally manufactured for indoor use shall not be used in an outdoor setting.”
• Including rubbish and “small trash” such as plastic cups and paper as part of the grass process. Currently rubbish and trash go through the court system for abatement while high grass problems can be appealed to the Code Enforcement Department. The new recommendation would streamline the process for minor trash problems.
• Keeping vehicles separate from trash. Old cars parked in yards without proper tags will continue to go through the court process for abatement. City Attorney Anne Gardner asked the committee to give her some direction on a firm deadline for owners to fix the problem.
“If a vehicle is on the city street violating an ordinance, they can be towed in five days through the Sedalia Police Department,” she said. “I’m dealing with cars and trucks that are on grass. Right now I can give them 30 days but we can shorten that if that’s what you want to do.”
“I say seven days,” said committee member Pete Sublett. “You can find someone or some company to tow it in a week. That’s more than enough.”
The committee also agreed to a $25 per day fine if the seven-day deadline wasn’t met. Those who don’t pay would receive a warrant for their arrest.
• Adding personnel to the Community Development Department for inspection and administrative duties. Currently there is a sole code enforcement officer in the department.
• Developing a neighborhood clean-up plan. Beginning with a neighborhood in each of the city’s four wards, the committee wants to implement a neighborhood clean-up project, inviting volunteers and city staff to work with homeowners and clean up frequent nuisance problems.
According to the draft, the project would “emphasize a desire to help, not judge. Notification to landlord/ tenants would be by letter and include information on the schedule and procedure, the areas chosen for clean up and the types of violations the city would help bring into compliance.”
The Public Works Department’s new pick-up on demand service for large trash items –– couches, refrigerators –– would also be utilized during the clean up.
• Recommending the city look into contracting for the use of prisoners from Tipton to assist the clean-up project.
• Changing a city ordinance regarding the disposal of building materials. Currently residents may not set out materials including lumber, drywall, etc., for trash pick-up. A new ordinance would allow it as long as residents put all materials into plastic bags. There is some challenge of how to make sure individuals, rather than large-scale contractors, are the only ones using the service.
“I think the biggest thing, when we present this to council, is to tell them none of this will work if they’re not willing to really enforce it,” said committee member Jack Robinson. “(Council members) can’t get two phone calls from angry (constituents) and stop or dial back the enforcement otherwise this will have been an entire waste.”
The committee will complete its final draft of recommendations and a PowerPoint presentation at its next meeting Aug. 23 and present the plan to council during a work session Aug. 27.
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