Tuesday, March 13, 2018

City Council Sanitation Committee Discusses Property Cleanup

A major need in the city of Warren is the cleanup and maintenance of private properties.  This includes abandoned houses and commercial buildings, grown up lots and illegal junk yards, including abandoned vehicles.  As the years have gone by the problem has grown.  In many cases the properties are owned by people who do not live in Warren, however, there are those who live in some of the properties and simply refuse to keep the sites up.

Warren has ordinances on the books to deal with the issues and in fact has been addressing a large number, yet more is needed.  Recently the City Council's Sanitation Committee has been assigned the task of reviewing the existing ordinances to determine if they can be strengthened or better procedures can be put in place to deal with the properties in a more efficient and faster manner.

State law dictates the authority of city government in these matters.  The following is the process:
1. The city receives a complaint about a site or a city council member brings in a complaint.
2. The city Building Official inspects and makes a determination if the property is in violation of the
3. If found in violation, an effort is made to locate the owner, whether they live in Warren or 
    across the country.  The owner is notified that corrections need to be made.  this can include 
    repairs, tearing down, mowing or moving junk.
4. If not action is taken the city council ( only the city council ) can vote to order the cleanup
    conducted by the owner.
5. If no action is taken after being so notified, the city can clean up the site or hire it done.
    The city, using tax dollars must pay the expenses.
6. A bill is sent to the owner.  If it is not paid a lien is filed on the site and no money can be
    borrowed against the property, no taxes can be paid and no other action can be taken with the 
    site until the lien is paid in full.  If the property goes tax delinquent it is certified to the state, 
     which can offer it for public sale after several years.  If it is sold, the lien must be paid.  If it 
     fails to sale, the state takes ownership and can donate it for public purposes. 
This is a long and costly process for the city and there is no guarantee that the taxpayers will get their money back.  It is the only way to enforce the improvements.

City officials continue to order properties cleaned up and a number are in the works at this time.  Only the Warren City Council has the authority to order a house torn down or a lot cleaned up.  

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