By Susan Redden
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Derelict vehicles, trash and junk, weeds and noxious plants, and junked furniture and appliances could become targets for a Jasper County enforcement effort under a proposed nuisance ordinance being considered by the County Commission.
The commissioners discussed the first draft of the proposed measure at their meeting Tuesday and expect to continue the review at their next meeting.
“I hope a lot of people will show up and tell us what they want, because we’ve gotten complaints about these types of things earlier, and we haven’t been able to address them,” said John Bartosh, presiding commissioner.
That the county needs such a measure “is painfully obvious,” said Darieus Adams, Western District associate commissioner.
Norman Rouse, attorney for the commission, said the county was given expanded authority under a state anti-nuisance law that was revised a year ago to include Jasper County.
“We asked to be included, because we feel like something needs to be done,” said Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner.
Under the law, the county would be empowered to address problems deemed as “nuisances” in the new ordinance. Property owners would be notified and given time to take care of the problem. Enforcement would be under the county health department, and the department director could seek a hearing before the County Commission if a property owner took no action on a correction order.
If the commission found there was a public health hazard or public nuisance, the panel could authorize the health director to order cleanup at county expense, with costs to be collected on a tax bill that would be assessed on the property. The property owner could meet with the commission to appeal, Rouse said.
Rouse said he based the draft on a measure in place in Boone County, and that he expects there will be several revisions before the commissioners settle on a final version.
“It’s up to you to decide how far we want to go, but we wanted to get it out there to get comments,” he told the commissioners.
Commissioners suggested that visibility might make trash and junk more of a target.
“A lot of people have junk — including me,” Bartosh said. “If it’s back behind the barn where people can’t see it, I don’t think it’s as much of a problem. It’s when it’s right out there on the road.”
“You’ll be deciding that by defining what is a nuisance,” Rouse said.
Honey said he wants the measure to include junked mobile homes, saying former occupants leave them, and then they can attract vandals or methamphetamine labs.
The commission will continue the review when it meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 16. Adams said he expects the commission will invite additional public comments before acting on a final version.
State law allowing county enforcement does not permit counties to adopt nuisance ordinances to regulate agricultural operations or the operations of railroad companies regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration.
In other business, the commissioners approved the purchase of 0.41 acre between county road district property and Highway 96 from Charles Cook at a cost of $1,000.
Honey recommended the purchase, saying, “We don’t want anyone else to move in there.”
THE JASPER COUNTY COMMISSIONERS agreed Tuesday to work with a committee of downtown business people who want to put a Christmas tree on the northwest corner of the courthouse square as part of a new downtown holiday lighting effort.