Nuisances no more

Belleville part of pilot program of outside enforcers of nuisance ordinances

By Deb Hadachek – Telescope editor
www.thebellevilletelescope.com

It doesn’t matter who you are.

It doesn’t matter where you live.

If you live in Belleville, someone from the outside is going to be looking at your property soon to make sure your property is not in violation of the city’s codes that regulate nuisances.

“We don’t know where people live. We’re not picking on anybody because we don’t know who people are,” Carol Torkelson, housing director for the North Central Regional Planning Commission based in Beloit told the Belleville City Council Monday night. “We’re enforcing the ordinance. On commercial property as well as residential.”

Belleville will be a pilot program for NCRPC based on similar initiatives in Nebraska to take the burden of nuisance ordinance enforcement off the shoulders of city staffs and councils.

Under the program, NCRPC staff will inspect properties and notify owners if they are in violation of the ordinance. Offenders will not be handled by the city unless they refuse to comply and civil court action is necessary, Torkelson said.

The council decided to do one section of the city a year, starting with the southwest quandrant. Torkelson said the cost of the service will be about $80 a parcel.

“This is a great opportunity to bring an outside view in to go through community using a fair and impartial methodology,” said Belleville City Manager Neal Lewis.

“They will look at everyone’s property– some of us (city staff and council) could get notice to take care of something.” “I think a lot of places are going to be in trouble,” commented council member Adam Robertson.

“I think the city (property) is going to be in trouble, to be honest.”

Robertson said he is concerned about dividing the city in a way that all commercial properties would be inspected the same year.

“(One section) encompasses residential properties and the downtown square, but when people come to town, that’s where they will start to see the changes,” said Mayor Kim Lapo.

Torkelson said she believes when property owners see that the city is serious about taking action on violations, owners will begin to take action on their own.

“People get used to having stuff and keeping stuff just because they can,” she said. “Some people have a hard time getting rid of stuff. They need to know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.”

Torkelson said all the visual inspection will be done from the street and public rightof-ways. Inspectors will not trespass on private property, she said.

The service will require the city to rescind existing nuisance ordinances and pass one single ordinance that addresses everything from derelict properties to grass to untagged cars, she said. She said she expects NCRPC will be ready to begin inspections in April.

City Clerk Russ Piroutek said the service will not replace the city taking action on properties it deemed to be a nuisance.

Learn more about North Central Regional Planning services here –www.ncrpc.org

The North Central Regional Planning strives to improve the quality of life in North Central Kansas. We are a Regional Planning Commission and Economic Development District with state and federal recognition. The core planning and development area consists of 12 counties and 83 cities in North Central Kansas. The NCRPC also oversees a number of programs that have far reaching impact throughout much of Kansas. With expertise in planning and development for infrastructure, housing, technology, small business, health/safety initiatives, and more, we are here to advance rural Kansas.