Thursday, May 04, 2017 - Updated: 11:29 AMClean it up or get ticketed.
That was the announcement that was made by Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel at the March 28, 2016 City Council meeting. “I shouldn’t have to live next to that trash and neither should any resident in the City of Metropolis,” said McDaniel to aldermen. “It’s got to the point where it’s almost shameful.”
One year later, improvements can be seen throughout the city, thanks to Greg Neihoff, code/abatement officer for the Metropolis Police Department.
After the mayor made the announcement last year, Neihoff, who retired from the Metropolis Police Department, came out of retirement on a part-time basis, working 20 hours a week. And though part of the job is issuing warnings and citations to residents concerning the grass and weeds in their yard, pertaining to the city’s Ordinance 95.01 with grass not to exceed six inches in height, Neihoff also enforces two other sections: Section 95.02 — accumulation of trash, garbage, debris, waste and junk, including inoperable vehicles; and Section 95.03 — nuisance detrimental to health, such as filth, odors or chemicals.
The job might sound easy to some, but there are certain steps that Neihoff must complete before the property is fined and/or nuisance is cleaned up.
“After first spotting the nuisance, such as garbage or abandoned vehicles in the yard, I stop by the city clerk’s office to find out who the tenant is that is paying the utilities,” explained Neihoff. “I then go back to my office at the city police department and research who is paying the property taxes to determine who is responsible for the nuisance — the tenant or the property owner. After that has been determined, I file a ‘Notice to Abate’ form, which is mailed out.”
Once a resident receives the form, they have seven days after receiving the notice to remove and abate the nuisance. If they proceed not to take care of the problem, then the City of Metropolis may do so. If this is necessary, a minimum of $150 will be charged to the offender, with additional fees added if necessary.
“Just this year alone, 20 to 30 abandoned homes within the city limits have been earmarked for demolition, with countless vehicles being tagged — some removed by the owners while others were removed by the city,” added Neihoff. “Locations of these nuisance are not centered around one area of town. I’ve tagged vehicles on the west side of town, sent abatement violations to abandoned property on Second Street near the riverfront and notified a resident of the violation of raw sewage from a camper being dumped into a container on the east side of town.
“For the most part, residents adhere to the abatement notice they receive and clean up their property, remove vehicles or mow; however, the city has had to step in a few times and clean up the property, with fines and fees being billed to the individuals,” Neihoff said.
If property needs to be demolished, the city can also provide the homeowner a grant for up to $1500 to cover expenses.
And, if trash, debris and junk needs to be removed from the yard, the city’s annual Clean Up Week is underway.
The city asked that all items be boxed or bagged unless bulky items, like furniture and white goods, and placed at the resident’s normal pick up point for trash. The city askd that all clean up items be positioned five feet from the trash container.
The city will also pick up carpet/padding that is rolled up and no larger than 3x3 feet, along with small amounts of lumber that is bundled no longer than 4-feet.
They will not accept tires, batteries, medical/hazardous waste, flammable liquids, paint unless empty/dry, electronics of any kind and construction/demolition debris.
Information on the grant or cleanup, contact the mayor’s office at 524-4016.