Marion council changes ?nuisance? procedures

The Marion City Council approved modifying the adopted city code regarding enforcement of nuisances during its Aug. 17 meeting.

City Attorney Susan Robson said many letters recently were sent out regarding the nuisance code, but in doing so there are things the council might want to consider changing.

?The city code approved last year stated that violations would start with a door hanger (left at the residence),? she said.

But that?s not how the process is working, Robson added.

?The (Marion) Police Department is doing the letters and hand delivering them,? she said.

The procedure is not an issue because violators are being notified and are given 10 days to either make changes or ask for a hearing.

In the past, Robson said, if the resident requested a hearing it would be done in front of the municipal court, but now it can be done in front of the governing body, which is the council.

?If you want to do that,? she said, ?your (council) meetings will become rather lengthy. If changed, the council can do an amendment and have the municipal court hear it.?

Because of the amount of letters going out, Robson said she knows of a few, thus far, who are requesting hearings.

If the parties request a hearing, according to the current resolution, a notice is sent to them setting the matter for hearing in front of the governing body or city council.

?Once someone is found in violation and the amount of time within the conditions is removed or abated, the city can come in and clean up weeds (or other nuisances) and assess the cost back to the violator,? she said.

If the property owner doesn?t pay, Robson added, it becomes part of the property tax bill.

?I also wanted to clarify that the police department has been good about identifying and notifying not only the renters living on the property, but also notifying the landowners,? she said.

Asked by Councilor Melissa Mermis who keeps track of the letters, Robson said Officer Duane McCarty has a system and is keeping good track. He is coordinating with Tiffany Jeffrey, city clerk; Becky Makovec, utility billing; and Erin Carr, court clerk and police department office manager, about when requests for a hearing are necessary and contacting the renter or property owner.

The council approved language to include hearings would be before the governing body or its designee.

It also suggested leaving door hanger or letter in the resolution, but adding ?or substitute notification? to provide leeway in the language.

Building permits

The council approved a revised building permit application process after hearing from Terry Jones, the city?s economic development director and zoning administrator.

Jones said he scaled back a few things, added phone numbers for applicants and made sure contractors were licensed with the city.

In addition, Jones said he included a permit application/zoning information, which is not an official document but serves as something to keep him account?able. The sheet also includes setbacks, right-of-way use and other specifications.

?There are a lot of things involving new structures and conforming to it,? Jones said. ?This will help.?

City Administrator Roger Holter asked if this will also be used for sign permits.

Jones said the sign permits have separate application to include size, location and other factors.

Recreation position

The council approved the parks and recreation director job description by a 3-1 vote. One councilor opposed the job description and another was absent.

Councilor Jerry Kline said: ?I don?t think the cemetery should be involved in that (job description), and that?s why I vote ?no.??

Holter said two meetings ago, the council asked that the parks and recreation job description be modified with a larger scope of responsibility.

?We have gone through to clearly identify parks, cemeteries and adopted budget guidelines,? he said. ?We made modifications regarding conducting workshops and training programs.?

Holter said they also focused on incorporating goals into the job description.

?Like any other position in the city,? he said, ?we do make adjustments whatever the changing conditions are and those can be revisited as we move along.?

The important part is that in order to advertise for the position, he said, the city needs a job description summary for review.

Mermis said the job description looked ?extremely thorough.?

Holter said he appreciated the council?s input and suggestions for a number of the modifications.

?This position will actually not be in place until the new fiscal year, Jan. 1,? he added. ?But given the extensive list of requirements, we think we should start the search process in print media as well as electronic.?

To avoid any misunderstandings, Holter said requests for applications need to include when the position will be filled.

?For a director-level position in the private industry, the recruitment process takes six to eight months to fill the position,? he said.

The council authorized Holter to begin advertising for the job.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? heard from Holter about the Experimental Aviation Association?s event at the municipal airport.

?It went well, with about 20 planes and pilots flying in,? he said.

? heard Adkins report that someone asked him to inquire about the cemetery; that person said they tried to find a loved one?s headstone, but couldn?t see it because of the weeds and grass.

Adkins said the people looking for the headstone ended up bringing out their own weed-eater and cleared the location.

Mermis said she walked through the cemetery Monday and the grass and weeds were cut back, but anyone looking for a headstone probably wouldn?t find it with all the grass now on top of the markers.

?I didn?t know if they were going over it with a blower (later), but they were done mowing and were out using the weed-eater,? she said.

? learned that summer help has departed for the year, but Holter said the city is looking to hire two more seasonal people that would be available to get the city through the growing season.

? held a 15-minute executive session for attorney-client privilege that included the council, city attorney and Holter.

?The executive session is in regard to preliminary or ongoing negotiations for a property acquisition,? Holter said.

The council took no action when the public session resumed.

The next council meeting is at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31, in council chambers, 208 E. Santa Fe.