NEOSHO, Mo. — The Neosho City Council plans to further clarify who is responsible for cleaning up graffiti around the city.
Without taking a vote, a consensus of council members asked for an ordinance about graffiti to be drawn up and considered during a future meeting. That ordinance, requested Tuesday during the council’s regular meeting, will likely hold business owners responsible for cleaning up graffiti on their properties, in much the same way property owners are responsible for removing overgrown weeds.
Neosho’s current ordinances currently forbid the creation of graffiti but do not specify who cleans up the mess left behind, said Neosho police Chief Jason Baird, who presented ordinances from the cities of Joplin and Springfield to the council for discussion.
According to documentation provided to council members, those two cities put the burden of cleaning graffiti on the property owner, with action required 10 days after the delivery of a notice.
An old business on Hamilton Street was used by council members as an example of how the city’s lack of an ordinance ties the city’s hands.
Council member Ashton Robinson said she hears from residents about graffiti on the old Fuller’s Market building. Located at 621 S. Hamilton St., it is currently vacant and is a target for vandalism.
“They are worried about their property values dropping, and we don’t have anything in place to require the cleanup of that,” Robinson said. “I think that it’s needed.”
During the meeting, Baird said the building’s owners have been cited for things that can be cited, such as weeds.
When discussing how such an ordinance places responsibility on property owners, Council Member Charles Collinsworth compared the principle to how the city asks residents to mow their lawns.
“We do require people to mow their lawns and keep them up, and this would be an extension of that,” Collinsworth said. “As a city, a thing that happens a lot is graffiti to our property. So if we ask someone to take care of theirs, I sure hope we are taking care of ours.”
Council members also discussed the possibility of having people sentenced to community service work on graffiti cleanup projects on private property, but such project assignments might not be practical.