Lehigh council approves qualifier for ‘nuisance’ ordinance

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
A resolution qualifying the recently passed nuisance-control ordinance was discussed and approved by Lehigh City Council during the regular April meeting on Monday.

Approved in March, Ordinance No. 256 was designed to regulate junk vehicles and establish cost and penalties. Resolution 2004-1 was drafted to allow each resident in the city to apply for one inoperable-car permit per registered driver at a residence.

“The whole point of this resolution is that we want to be able to work with people,” said Councilor Todd Jost, who brought the sample resolution to council.

In an effort to be fair to all citizens, the council discussed the proposed resolution to provide a lawful permit for owners of demolition-derby and restoration cars that would otherwise be in violation of Ordinance No. 256.

“How we set this up is very important, not only now but for the next 15 to 20 years,” Mayor Ron Duerksen said.

“We’re trying to set a precedence that will carry on when all of us leave and seven new people come in. The city doesn’t have to fear what’s going to happen-there are things put in place.”

Guest David Terrell said: “I think one permit per registered driver is probably adequate, even in the extreme cases. I think we can make it too loose so it becomes ambiguous. I realize we have to have some guidelines and hold to them as best we can.”

Council discussed and approved the following issues in creating the resolution:

n When a vehicle is registered, the application for each permit will include a copy of the resolution with a place for such information as the applicant’s signature, vehicle identification number and an explanation of the status of the vehicle. The original paper will be filed with the city clerk, a copy will be retained by the applicant and a sticker will be issued.

n A permit will be valid for six months and may be renewed in person at a city council meeting or by request in writing.

The council may deny an extension if it sees no evidence that work in good faith is being done on the vehicle. The governing body reserves the right to decline the permit if the request conflicts with public interest or other ordinances.

n The cost of each permit will be $5, and any subsequent renewal permits will cost $5.

“That’s an administrative fee,” said Councilor Monty Root.

Guest Dianna-Carter Frantz, Marion County appraiser, attended the meeting to discuss a neighborhood-revitalization program being considered by the council.

The proposal would include adopting a property-tax abatement program for city-approved residential and commercial buildings and remodeling projects. The program covers tax abatement for 10 years.

“If you decide to do this, and you have an application, they need to come to the city to apply for that,” she said. ” It is not through the county appraiser, because it has to be your decision as to whether they will qualify.”

As the process progresses, the appraiser would require pertinent information concerning the application and the status of that project.

Although most plans adopted by other cities have a minimum expenditure amount of $5,000 on a residential project and $15,000 on commercial, Carter-Frantz said those figures can be adjusted to what the council feels is appropriate for the community.

“If a residential property increases in appraised value by at least 5 percent, then it qualifies for rebate,” Carter-Frantz said. “Now, what you need to decide on is-5 percent from what value?”

In the case of Hillsboro, the values were set in 1999, and all projects after that period are compared to the 1999 values.

“Other towns have it that the year you apply-if the value of the next year increases at least 5 percent from the year that you’ve applied-then you qualify for the rebate,” Carter-Frantz said. “But we value the property the same, whether it’s under revitalization or not.”

Carter-Frantz cautioned that a total cost spent on a project does not mean the county will automatically appraise that structure by that additional amount. Even if the receipt total is turned into the city, “that doesn’t mean that the appraised value is going to go up,” she said.

A complete report of this meeting appears in the April 15 Hillsboro Free Press Extra, the official publication for the city of Lehigh.

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