Our view: Cleaning up
Last week, the Tonganoxie City Council ordered the owners of two structures in the city to address multiple issues the city codes inspector identified within 90 days or face having the city tear down the buildings at the owners’ expense.
Both properties are at very visible locations and the city presented their past and present owners numerous nuisance violations in the last decade.
There was not much of a campaign for city offices before the April election for open city positions. Only three candidates ran for the two open council seats, and Mayor Jason Ward was elected without opposition. Nonetheless, during candidate forums, voters impressed on the winning candidates they wanted something done about the city’s appearance. It is not a coincidence the council will update its nuisance regulations within the next month or that it took action against the two structures.
At a show-cause hearing before this past week’s decision on one of the buildings, one property owner protested that the city unfairly had singled out his property. There were, he said, other structures in the city in worse shape. Although this sound’s like a child’s “they did it, too” defense — and a tacit admission of the city’s findings — he had a point. The two buildings the city took action on last week are not the only neglected properties in the city.
At the hearing, the property owner was told the city was aware of his observation, as evidenced by the other hearing on the agenda. Implicit in council members’ comments was the expectation city staff would follow up on other neglected properties in the city and that council would act, if necessary.
The process that led to last week’s hearing can be a long and time-consuming process, as should any procedure that so directly threatens the private property rights of an individual.
The difficulties associated with the process should make city residents more hopeful — and put other frequently cited property owners more on notice — that the city is serious about saying enough is enough about some of Tonganoxie’s more neglected properties.