Archive for Wednesday, April 6, 2011

2011 elections brings blight to city’s agenda

April 6, 2011

The USD 464 bond referendum on Tuesday’s ballot overshadowed races for the Tonganoxie City Council, but city officials and the mayor see the need to respond to an issue citizens raised during the campaigns.

Mayor Jason Ward, who ran unopposed on Tuesday’s ballot, said residents have brought the issue of community blight to the city’s attention.

“We’ve seen at the meet-the-candidates forum and comments by citizens at meetings a concern about what we can do to enforce nuisance laws and certain problems with particular properties,” he said. “They question if those properties are falling outside nuisance laws or if the laws are being enforced they way they should be.

“I think that we certainly have work to do. To me as a city, we need to constantly evaluate what we can do tokeep up our neighborhoods.”

Ward said he viewed the problem as an enforcement issue of the city’s nuisance laws, subdivision regulations and parking ordinances. Along with that, city government and its residents have to evaluate what the city can do to ramp up enforcement.

As a way to improve enforcement in a city with a one-day-a-week building inspector/codes enforcement officer, Ward proposes appointment of a citizens’ volunteer group charged with spotting and reporting possible violations to the city. Then the codes enforcement officer could concentrate on enforcement during his limited hours rather than patrolling for violations, he said.

City Administrator Mike Yanez said residents could already be helpful by reporting code violations.

“We follow up on every complaint phoned into the city,” he said. “As a matter of fact with summer coming up, that’s going to be the biggest season for us. With people not mowing yards, we send out 10 letters a week.”

Reponses to letters vary, Yanez said. Some residents are apologetic and take steps immediately to correct problems of which they were unaware. Others may take care of the problem but let soon let problems resurface, adding to the frustration of neighbors.

To beef up enforcement in the absence of a full-time code officer, Police Chief Jeff Brandau has directed officers to look for violations of nuisance regulations when patrolling, Yanez said.

But even with more oversight, enforcing nuisance regulations can be frustrating for neighbors and the city, Yanez said.

“We can’t just force people to cleanup their messes,” he said. “We have to follow due process.”

That involves first sending a letter to the offending property owner demanding action within 10 days, Yanez said. Anytime before that deadline, the property owner can file an appeal, which can take 10 days.

Yanez said with the recent interest, he would recommend the council schedule a work session on the issue.

“We’ll walk them (council members) through the abatement process, the timeline to appeal, and how tough you can get on violators,” he said. “They may want to make some changes.”

Ward said he would encourage citizen participation at the work session.

“I think it would be great to have citizens involved in that as well,” he said. “It will be a public meeting. Some people who have brought ideas to us should participate.

“It’s going to have to be a joint evaluation of those things.”

The city also has a role in investing in older neighborhoods in such ways as replacing deteriorated curb and guttering, Ward said.

“We did that on Cox and Second streets,” he said. “I’d like to do more of that. We don’t want to get pockets in town that haven’t been addressed.”

Comments

tongiegirl 3 years ago

LOL.. Mr Ward want to start a Citizens volunteer group. Oh ok.... I hate my neighbor so i will call the city and rat him out! Let the police officers look for code violations as they ride around. Isn't that part of their jobs? Can I get a list of the CODES.... I dont want to have my neighbor rat me out cuz my yard did not get cut as fast as his...

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Michael Vestal 3 years ago

There is no real great solution to this problem except Good Old Fashion Pride in your Community and wanting a Beautiful, Clean & Safe neighborhood. Seems Quite Simple. There are So many steps towards cleaning up an area, that by the time all those are finished, property is "okay", Then when the heat goes off, the property gets back in the same shape as before. It's a viscous circle. PLEASE folks, Those of you who think you're being "Picked On", take pride in your Property!! It does nothing but help the Value of your Home. Those Landlords out there. DO NOT allow YOUR tenants to run down the value of your Property. Don't be a "Slum Lord"!! Simply put; PRIDE Folks; Take pride in your Property & Your City. Your neighbors Will be very appreciative.

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getagrip 3 years ago

I think it's funny that we are talking about keeping things nice and beautiful, taking pride in our community, etc., but we can have a moble home park for a school in what could be a beautiful downtown. How attractive is that?

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only1 3 years ago

I'm glad I read your post before I posted, because I was thinking the very same, but I'm beating a dead horse, at least for now. There are just some people that don't want to help out the community in any way that doesn't benefit them. Pool, police station, school, you name it... Some are business owners that want your buck, but don't want to give back. I know people (some business owners or managers) that complain about all of that. They don't see it as benefitting them. There are two business for sure, that won't be getting my buck for this very reason.

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straightup 3 years ago

Read between the lines people the city wants to control what you can have on your property. Boat, 1 ton trucks, RVs, trailers, It has nothing to do with taking pride in your property. It has to do with trying to pass that code that they tried to pass last year. I and many other people went to a meeting at city hall where the council tried to put in place a code to try to make the city into a home association community. It's one thing to keep your property clean and nice but to try to tell someone what they can keep on our property is something else. If this is about just cleaning places up that have crap ( old broken down cars, washers,dryer, tall grass,old tiers) I'm OK with that. But city and neighbors need to mind their own business if they want to tell me I can't park my boat on my property that I pay taxes on. That is wrong.

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Tongiescout 3 years ago

Once again the City Council has completely missed the point...they think that community blight is the issue??? How about the fact that we have had multiple businesses and commerce show interest in the city for development plans but we can't get them to move on it because we don't have the city infrastructure. I could care less if my neighbor has a boat or lawn mower in their yard if we were growing as a community.

I have only seen one or two properties in town that I though "wow, they should really clean that up" but the city leadership feels it is more important to use our police force to patrol for code violations??? Why don't they focus on the enormous drug problem we have in Tonganoxie, I think that might be more beneficial.

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only1 3 years ago

Yes! With you on the drug issue. It is bad...

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straightup 3 years ago

Tongiescout: Looks like you feel the city need a new police station. Maybe they do or maybe they don't. You must be an officer. Seems that is the only post you ever comment on. As far as the drug activity in Tongie I agree, but what I understand they need to start in the police dept. there is a ramped use of steroids and alcohol in the police dept. Start with the supervisors.

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Tongiescout 3 years ago

Straightup, I am not a police officer. I am a business owner in the metro and I live in Tonganoxie. I have lots of friends with children that go to school in the area and I hear about all the drugs that go on. I know the police officers are aware of the situation, I just wish they could do more about it. It starts with the leadership, not the officers.

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straightup 3 years ago

Tongiescout: If you read my post I agreed to your post about drugs in this community to a point. What I guess I don't understand is that the city needs to improve the infrastructure? You say: "The city has had multiple businesses and commerce show interest in the city for development plan but we can't get them to move on it because we don't have the city infrastructure." So tell us what businesses that has came to the city but decided not to come because of the city's infrastructure? I haven't read anything about someone business that would come to the city only if we had a bigger police station and city hall. Did I miss a big story in the paper?

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Michael Vestal 3 years ago

Could one of you please tell me how you know Tonganoxie has an enormous drug problem? Where do you get that information and if you do know of where these big problems are, i.e. drug houses, Contact the police dept., I'm sure they would be very interested in your information and would keep your name Confidential. Please, Enlighten everyone. If you can Help the Police Great!!

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straightup 3 years ago

Confidential in this town? This makes me laugh!!!!

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only1 3 years ago

I'm not going to reveal how I know, but I'm not making it up. You might be surprised who is doing illegal substances. Regardless, the police dept. is aware, trust me. I just don't see that they are overly concerned about it. They have made a couple of busts, but they aren't trying very hard because there are places they could go on any given day and make a bust. A rock solid deterrent might keep "some" of these young kids from getting involved, but one bust a year isn't going to get it done. It's easier for kids to get drugs than cigarettes or beer if they know the right people. It's happening whether you choose to believe it or not. Alot of people are either naive or turning their heads the other way.

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Tongiescout 3 years ago

I could not agree more. Everyone in town knows that there is a problem, it's whether or not you want to admit that there is a problem...people can deny it all they want but when their child gets arrested with drugs or gets hurt because of them, that's when people will take an intrest.

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