The number of nuisances reported to the City of Minot has been on the rise in recent years, with code enforcement officials receiving 614 weed or grass complaints in 2017 and 782 complaints in 2018. This year, that number is tracking even higher, with 1,001complaints as of Aug. 20.
We discussed a specific case during the Aug. 19 City Council meeting, a discussion that made me think about ways to help familiarize the public with the issue of nuisances and how the City deals with them.
I’ll reiterate what I said during the Council meeting: While we don’t want to discourage residents from appearing before the Council, it’s probably not the most efficient way to have an informed discussion about a specific nuisance. If Council members are hearing about a resident’s unique situation for the first time at a Council meeting, with no background information for reference, the issue is likely not going to be solved that day. We want to make informed decisions, and that’s difficult to do without sufficient information.
Instead, I encourage the public to reach out to us and go through the formal process. That’s the most efficient and effective way to address the issue. According to City of Minot code, there are two processes for residents to appeal both the determination of a nuisance and the cost of the abatement.
When a resident receives a notice of a nuisance on their property, they first can appeal whether or not there is an actual nuisance. Under City ordinance, an appeal for a hearing with the city manager must be made within five days after the resident receives notice from the City. If the city manager agrees with the resident, then the issue is settled. If the city manager agrees with the City, the property owner has five days to abate the nuisance. If the nuisance isn’t abated by the owner, the City then has the right to abate the nuisance and assess the property owner to cover its cost.
A resident can also appeal the cost of an abatement already done by the City; this appeal must also be made to the city manager, who will determine whether or not the cost of an abatement should be reduced.
At the Aug. 19 meeting, Council members approved nuisance abatement lists for the past year. The list of weed abatements totaled $23,825.50, while the list for other nuisance abatements was $3,263.89. The list represents the properties the City abated for the 12-month period beginning Aug. 31, 2018, but has not received payment. The lists were certified by the Council and will be submitted to Ward County, and the costs will be added to the property tax of the owners of the parcels.
Certainly, everyone is aware that there is a growing number of empty lots in our community’s river valley. Some of these properties are owned by the City, others remain under private ownership. That’s led to an increase in the number of complaints we get, especially about tall grass and weeds overtaking properties. It’s challenging and expensive for the City to maintain its property, and having to abate nuisances on private property contributes to that challenge.
If you have a legitimate complaint about a piece of property, we encourage you to reach out to the City’s Public Works Department to make a report. You can also report issues online under “Report a Concern” with our request tracker at https://www.minotnd.org/requesttracker.aspx
But, remember there is an official and legal process that must play out before that nuisance can be abated. We take private property rights seriously, and must follow the letter of our ordinances. We recognize that the process might not be fast enough for some residents, but, again, property owners have rights in these cases.
Rest assured, we’re working to resolve the growing list of complaints as effectively as we can, but our code enforcement office is often overwhelmed with complaints, and that can lead to a backlog. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the complaints, while at the same time recognizing the rights of all property owners.
Sincerely, City Hall
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