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— Numerous properties were discussed at the Thursday meeting of the Building and Property Code Enforcement Committee, and progress is being made to clean up unsafe homes and buildings in the city.

Among properties discussed at the meeting were the following, as reported to the committee by city building code inspector David McNair:◊201 N. McKinnon - the property owner was located and information on code violations sent by facsimile, giving the owner 20 days to report back on a course of action (repair or demolition);

◊304 N. Otis - the owner plans to demolish the building and has until Feb. 22, 2010 to do so;

◊312 N. Otis - the roof has been repaired and windows replaced, removing it from the building code violation list;

◊104 N. Byers - the property is being deeded to the Gentry First Baptist Church, with action expected to follow on the part of the church;

◊180 N. Robin Rd. - the owner has been contacted and has 20 days to determine a course of action;

◊651 N Robin Rd. - the owner was notified and should have replied to the city on a course of action by Friday, likely demolition to be completed within six months.

At the request of the committee, McNair has been keeping a log of structures which are in violation, with columns to note the dates of contact and the action to be taken to correct the violation.

In addition to the properties on the log McNair submitted, committee members suggested other properties for him to check and include in his efforts to bring structures into compliance with city code. Committee members also asked McNair to review the city code to see if it gave him the authority to inspect homes which had been vacant for six months or more before they are again inhabited.

"We have plenty of houses in town with dirt floors that are rented out," said councilwoman Janie Parks.

The committee spent a portion of its meeting time discussing violations of the city's code requiring property owners to keep grass and weeds cut below six inches on all developed property.

Orchard Lane was discussedbecause of the tall grass and weeds at the entrance to the subdivision and the dirt piles and construction debris still there.

Also discussed were city and state right-of-ways adjacent to lands yet undeveloped or zoned agricultural. Though city code exempts agricultural lands within the city from the mowing requirement, the question was raised as to whether or not the property owners should still be required to keep right-of-ways mowed - as is required of other property owners.

Questions were raised about the equity of requiring homeowners to mow right-of-ways and utility easements and not requiring the same of agricultural landowners. Appearance, too, was discussed regarding areas within the city where a homeowner mows to the highway or street and the undeveloped or agricultural property adjacent has weeds and brush along the highway or street.

No decision or recommendation was made regarding requirements for right-of-ways adjacent to agricultural properties, but the matter was referred back to the full city council for direction.

Railroad right-of-ways were also discussed because of the code violations along the Kansas City Southern tracks within the city. Committee members were told that the mayor would attempt to address those issues with the Railroad.

In the case of subdivisions with vacant lots, the committee suggested that property owners at least brush hog to keep weeds and grass down since the property is developed property and no longer deemed to be "in its natural state."

"We need to eat this elephant one bite at a time," said committee chairman and councilman James Furgason regarding all the code enforcement issues before the committee.

Furgason also suggested that the city look into ways to help property owners by providing limb pickup on a regular basis.

"Unless there's a way to get rid of (the limbs and debris the city requires property owners to clean up), you're tying people's hands," Furgason said.

The committee meets at 5:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the city hall conference room.

News, Pages 1, 2 on 08/26/2009

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