City officials are contemplating what to do about more rundown properties.
Zoning Administrator Mike Shimer told the Robinson City Council Tuesday night he has received complaints about the condition of several properties in the 500 and 600 blocks of East Locust Street.
Shimer noted there are six properties in that two-block area that have come under question, most of them in dire need of mowing. Some of the properties are in bad shape structurally and in need of repair and one probably needs torn down. Other problems include trash in the yards, weeds and abandoned vehicles.
One difficulty Shimer has had is finding and contacting owners of these properties. Several have been purchased by corporations outside the area through tax sales, with no one wanting to claim ownership. He believes one of the properties in question has sat empty for at least a year, and another one for longer than that. Shimer told the council he is aware of the city’s moratorium on condemning and tearing down properties, but is hoping for a new idea to help solve this problem.
The moratorium that started in January is in response to the city’s budget crunch. It follows several years in which the city aggressively pursued condemnation as a way to address deteriorating properties.
“There are several (properties) in that cluster that are not being maintained,” Shimer said. “The neighbors are complaining and we need to figure out what to do.”
It was suggested that the police could write tickets every day for ordinance violations, but the problem is not knowing who to issue them to.
Mayor Gary Davis suggested the council find out what, if any, ordinances the properties are violating, what the city has the power to and not to do and come up with a proposal, possibly a new ordinance, to help alleviate the problem.
“We need to see what the most expedient and cost-effective way to handle it is,” Davis said.
Also Tuesday night, aldermen adopted a new ordinance that increases the sewer deposit fee from $35 to $50 for those who rent property in the city. As a result, homeowners no longer have to pay a deposit fee to have their sewer turned on, and those property owners who have paid the $35 fee be given a credit on their sewer bill.
Shandi Meiszner of Meiszner Landscape Design and Garden Shoppe again approached the council regarding the city’s open burning ordinance.
At a meeting last month, it was suggested Meiszner could buy or build an “air curtain destructor” to be used on their property for burning of any debris they may have. After doing some research, Meiszner informed the council that a structure like that is too large and would not be cost-effective for them to use.
Meiszner is looking for an alternative way to burn on their property without violating the city’s ordinance. She asked the council if there was a way to take a portion of their property back out of the city limits after it has been annexed. City attorney Bill Heap told Meiszner and the council there is a procedure to have a property dis-annexed from the city. He was unaware of the exact steps that would need to be taken, but did say any property owner at any time can petition to be dis-annexed and go through that process. Davis told Meiszner he would contact her about what steps needed to be taken to go through that process if she desires.
The council also received a report on the status of the heating/air conditioning unit in the Mother Goose Nursery School room at the community center. The unit malfunctioned earlier this summer and needed repair. Alderman Joe Hayden informed the council it would not be cost-effective to the city to do the repairs and would be cheaper to purchase a separate unit for that room. One quote was received for the cost of a new unit, but council members said they needed to solicit other bids for the project. The council agreed to seek additional bids and allow the street committee, which also oversees the community center, to make the final decision prior to the next council meeting.
Aldermen approved the part-time employment of Mike Emmerich to the parks department. Emmerich will replace Bob Laswell, who is taking a leave of absence for health reasons. Parks and Recreation Director Mike Shimer informed the council the last day the pool will be open is Sunday, Aug. 21.