Opportunity Awaits...

City Office: 515-832-9151

Nuisances

Chapter 55
GENERAL PROVISIONS

55.01 Definitions
55.01 DEFINITIONS. The following terms are defined for use in the chapters of this Code of Ordinances pertaining to nuisances:

1. “Abandoned vehicle” means any of the following:

A. A vehicle that has been left parked illegally on public property for more than 48 hours lacking vital component parts, or

B. A vehicle that has been unlawfully parked on private property without the consent of the owner or person in control of the property for more than 24 hours, or

C. A motor vehicle that has remained for a period of more than 30 days on private property, with or without consent of the owner or person in control of the property, in an inoperable condition, unless it is kept in an enclosed garage or storage building, or

D. A vehicle that has been legally impounded by order of a police authority and has not been reclaimed for a period of 10 days, or

E. Any vehicle parked on the highway determined by a police authority to create a hazard to other vehicle traffic.

2. “All weather surface” means a surface as defined in section 180.02 (2) of this Code of Ordinances.

3. “Front yard area” means all the area between the front property line and a line drawn along the front face or faces of the principal structure on the property and extended to the side property lines.

4. “Inoperable condition” means that the vehicle has not substantial potential use consistent with its usual function, and includes a vehicle that (a) has a missing or defective part that is necessary for normal operation of the vehicle, or (b) is stored on blocks, jacks or other supports, or (c) has not had a current vehicle license for at least three (3) months.

5. “Junk” means old or scrap ferrous or non-ferrous metal, rope, rags, batteries, paper, trash, rubber, debris, waste or junked, dismantled or wrecked motor vehicles or parts of motor vehicles.

6. “Junk vehicle” means any vehicle legally placed in storage with the County Treasurer or unlicensed, stored within the corporate City limits and which has any one of the following characteristics:

A. Broken or Loose Part. Any vehicle with a broken or loose fender, door, bumper, hood, hood ornament, door handle, window handle, running board, steering wheel, trunk top, trunk handle, radio aerial, tail pipe or decorative piece.

B. Habitat for Nuisance Animals or Insects. Any vehicle which has become the habitat for rats, mice or snakes or other vermin or insects.

C. Flammable Fuel. Any vehicle which contains gasoline or any other flammable fuel.

D. Inoperable. Any motor vehicle which is in inoperable condition.

E. Defective or Obsolete Condition. Any other vehicle which, because of its defective or obsolete condition, in any other way constitutes a threat to the public health and safety.

F. Broken Glass. Any vehicle with a broken, cracked or missing windshield, window, headlight or tail light, or any cracked or broken glass.

7. “Motor home” means a motor vehicle designed as an integral unit to be used as a conveyance upon the public streets and highways and for use as a temporary recreational dwelling and having at least four (4), two of which shall be systems specified in paragraphs (1), (4) or (5) of this subsection, of the following permanently installed systems which meet American National Standards Institute and National Fire Protection Association standards in effect on the date of manufacture.

A. Cooking facilities.

B. Ice box or mechanical refrigerator.

C. Portable water supply including plumbing and a sink with faucet either self-contained or with connections for external water disposal or both.

D. Self-contained toilet or a toilet connected to a plumbing system with connection for external water disposal, or both.

E. Heating or air conditioning system or both, separate from the vehicle engine or the vehicle engine electrical system.

F. A 110- to 115-volt alternating current electrical system separate form the vehicle engine electrical system.

8. “Motor vehicle” means any motor vehicle as defined in Iowa Code Chapter 321.1, including the following:

A. Motorized bicycle

B. Motorcycle

C. All-terrain vehicles

9. “Nuisance” means whatever is injurious to health, indecent, or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property so as essentially to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property.

10. “Outside” means to be outside of an enclosed storage facility and visible from any other property, including the public right-of-way.

11. “Side yard comer lots” means the yard area adjacent to the street right-of-way on a corner lot extending from the front yard along the side of the structure to the rear property line.

12. “Trailer” means every vehicle without motive power designed for carrying persons or property and for being drawn by a motor vehicle and so constructed that only tongue weight rests upon the towing vehicle.

13. “Travel trailer” means a vehicle without motive power used or so manufactured or constructed as to permit its being used as a conveyance upon the public streets and highways and so designed to permit the vehicle to be used as a place of human habitation by one or more persons. Said vehicle may be up to eight (8) feet in width and its overall length shall not exceed 40-feet unless width and length are in conflict with Chapter 321 Code of Iowa. Such a vehicle shall be customarily or ordinarily used for vacation or recreational purposes and not used as a place for human habitation. If any such vehicle is used in this State as a place for human habitation for more than 90 consecutive days in one location, it shall be classed as mobile home regardless of the size limitations herein provided.

14. “Vehicle” means every device in, upon or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway or street, excepting devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks, and includes without limitation a motor vehicle, automobile, truck, motorcycle, tractor, buggy, wagon, farm machinery, any combination thereof.

15. “Vital component parts” means those parts of the motor vehicle that are essential to the mechanical functioning of the vehicle, including but not limited to, the motor, drive train and wheels.

16. “Weeds” means noxious or other otherwise, untended vines, brush and scrub bushes, grass and other similar vegetation.

55.02 Declaration of Nuisances

55.02 DECLARATION OF NUISANCES. The following are declared to be nuisances:

1. Abandoned Vehicles. Abandoned and junk vehicles are declared to be a public nuisance creating a hazard to the health and safety of the public because they invite plundering, create fire hazards, attract vermin and present physical dangers to the safety and well being of children and other citizens. The accumulation and outside storage of such vehicles is in the nature of rubbish, litter and unsightly debris and is a blight on the landscape and a detriment to the environment.

2. Air Pollution. Emission of dense smoke, noxious fumes or fly ash.

3. Airport Air Space. Any object or structure ·hereafter erected within 1,000 feet of the limits of any municipal or regularly established airport or landing place, which may endanger or obstruct aerial navigation including take-off and landing, unless such object or structure constitutes a proper use or enjoyment of the land on which the same is located.

4. Billboards. Billboards, signboards and advertising signs, whether erected and constructed on public or private property, which so obstruct and impair the view of any portion or part of a public street, avenue, highway, boulevard or alley or of a railroad or street railway track as to render dangerous the use thereof.

5. Blocking Public and Private Ways. Obstructing or encumbering, by fences, buildings or otherwise, the public roads, private ways, streets, alleys, commons, landing places or burying grounds.

6. Construction Materials. Any construction materials, including piles of dirt, rocks, sand and sod, left in the open on property or street right-of-way more than sixty (60) days after construction has been completed or a certificate of occupancy has been issued, whichever occurred first.

7. Dutch Elm Disease. Trees infected with Dutch Elm Disease.

8. Filth or Noisome Substance. Causing or suffering any offal, filth or noisome substance to be collected or to remain in any place to the prejudice of others.

9. Garbage and Trash. The depositing of, maintaining, permitting or failing to remove, garbage, trash, rubbish, bottles, cans and other refuse on any property within the City, including large quantities of organic debris and materials, which accumulated by other than natural means, except neatly maintained compost piles.

10. Houses of Ill Fame. Houses of ill fame, kept for the purpose of prostitution and lewdness; gambling houses; or houses resorted to by persons using controlled substances, as defined in Section 124.101[5] of the Code of Iowa, in violation of law, or houses where drunkenness, quarreling, fighting or breaches of the peace are carried on or permitted to the disturbance of others.

11. Impeding Passage of Navigable River. Obstructing or impeding without legal authority the passage of any navigable river, harbor or collection of water.

12. Machinery and Junk. The piling, storage or keeping of old machinery, junk, furniture, household furnishings or appliances or component parts thereof, or other debris within the City.

13. Offensive Smells. Erecting, continuing or using any building or other place for the exercise of any trade, employment or manufacture, which, by occasioning noxious exhalations, unreasonably offensive smells, or other annoyances; becomes injurious and dangerous to the health, comfort or property of individuals.

14. Parked Vehicles. Any vehicle whether occupied or not that is found stopped or parked in violation of any ordinance or State statute, or that is reported stolen, or that is found impeding fire fighting, snow removal or plowing or the orderly flow of traffic, is declared to be a public nuisance. Also, any vehicle which is impeding public road or utility repair, construction or maintenance activities after reasonable notice in writing of the proposed activities has been given to the vehicle owner or user at least 12 hours in advance, is declared to be a public nuisance.

15. Parking and Storage. The outside parking and storage on property used for residential purposes and/or residentially zoned property of large numbers of vehicles, watercraft, trailers, materials, supplies or equipment not customarily used for residential purposes in violation of the requirements set forth below is declared to be a nuisance because it (a) obstructs views on streets and private property, (b) creates cluttered and otherwise unsightly areas, ( c) prevents the full use of residential streets for residential parkings, (d) decreases adjoining landowners’ and occupants’ enjoyment of their property and neighborhood, and (e) otherwise adversely affects property values and neighborhood patterns. Unlawful Parking and Storage:

A. No person may place, store or allow the placement or storage of ice fish houses, skateboard ramps or other similar non­permanent structures outside continuously for longer than 24 hours in the front yard area or side yard corner lots on property used for residential purposes and/or residentially zoned property.

B. No person may place, store or allow the placement or storage of pipe, lumber, forms, steel, machinery or similar materials, including all materials used in connection with a business, outside on property used for residential purposes and/or residentially zoned property.

C. No person shall cause, undertake, permit or allow the outside parking and storage of vehicles on property used for residential purposes and/or residentially zoned property unless it complies with the following requirements: (1) Vehicles which are parked or stored outside in the front yard or side yard of corner lot areas must be on all weather surface driveway which shall not exceed 30% of the front yard or side yard corner lot. Driveways exceeding 30% of the front yard or side yard corner lot prior to adoption of.the ordinance codified by this chapter, are exempt, providing no additional surface area is added. Exceptions: The prohibitions of this subsection shall not apply to the following:

(a) Any motor truck, pickup truck or similar vehicle being used by a public· utility, moving company or similar company, which is actually bring used to serve a residence not belonging to or occupied by the operator of the vehicle.

(b) Any vehicle which is actually making a pickup or delivery at the location where it is parked. Parking for any period of time beyond the period of time reasonably necessary to make such pickup or delivery.

( c) Lawful nonconforming and permitted uses.

16. Storing of Inflammable Junk. Depositing or storing of inflammable junk, such as old rags, rope, cordage, rubber, bones and paper, by dealers in such .articles within the fire limits of the City, unless in a building of fireproof construction.

17. Water Pollution. Corrupting or rendering unwholesome or impure the water of any river, stream or pond, or unlawfully diverting the same from its natural course or state, to the injury or prejudice of others.

18. Weeds. Any weeds or grass that is allowed to grow in excess of the height stated below for the respective area:

Eight (8) inches – Developed residential, commercial and industrial zoned areas

Twelve (12) inches – Undeveloped residential, commercial and industrial zoned areas

Eighteen (18) inches -Unplatted property and agricultural zoned property unless planted for farm cropping purposes

55.03 Nuisance Prohibited
55.03 NUISANCES PROHIBITED. The creation or maintenance of a nuisance is prohibited, and a nuisance, public or private, may be abated in the manner provided for in Chapter 9 or 56 of this Code of Ordinances. (Code of Iowa, Sec. 657.3)
55.04 Cost Recovery
55.04 COST RECOVERY. The administrative costs associated with investigating, abating and inspecting nuisances and nuisance property is a cost that should be borne by the person or persons responsible and not the public at large. Therefore, the City shall be authorized to recover the following costs:

1. The costs of any abatement, including emergency abatement, performed directly by City or indirectly through the employment of a third party.

2. Reasonable attorney . fees and court costs associated with the adjudication nuisance violations and any citations or criminal charges arising from said violations.

3. Any reinspection fees as defined in Section 55.05 of this chapter.

55.05 Reinspection Fees
55.05 REINSPECTION FEES. Reinspection fees are an appropriate method to recover costs disproportionately attributable to recalcitrant persons responsible and are intended to recover the cost of staff time when excessive time and effort become necessary to obtain code compliance for one or more a nuisance violations. Reinspection fees shall be authorized as follows:

1. The first inspection following the issuance of a notice of violation, citation, infraction or order involving a nuisance shall be considered part of the normal cost of enforcement and will not be charged if the nuisance condition is abated.

2. After the first inspection, the staff time associated with subsequent inspections, monitoring, and administrative actions relating to that nuisance violation shall be billed at an hourly rate plus administrative costs as established from time to time by resolution of the City Council.

3. The Administrative Authority responsible for said inspections, reinspections, monitoring and other administrative action shall keep an accurate bill of said fees, which shall be billed to the person responsible.

4. The hourly rate shall be limited to the actual hourly rate of the employee, plus a 50% administrative fee.

55.06 Applicability
55.06 APPLICABILITY. The requirements in Sections 55.04 and 55.05 shall apply to the administration of any nuisance as defined in this Code of Ordinances, including those described in Chapters 55 (General Provisions), 56 (Administrative Procedure), 57 (Destruction ofNoxious Weeds and Moving of Grass), 58 (Chronic Nuisances) 128 (Signs), 140 (Abandoned Vehicles), 141 (Junk and Junk Vehicles), 142 (Trees and Shrubbery), 143 (Real Property Abandonment and Vacancy) and 185 (Regulations).

Chapter 56
ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE

56.01 Nuisance Abatement
56.01 NUISANCE ABATEMENT. Whenever the City Manager or other authorized municipal officer finds that a nuisance exists, such officer shall cause to be served upon the property owner a written notice to abate the nuisance within a reasonable time after notice. (Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])
56.02 Notice to Abate: Contents
56.02 NOTICE TO ABATE: CONTENTS. The notice to abate shall contain: (Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])

1. Description of Nuisance. A description of what constitutes the nuisance or other condition.

2. Location of Nuisance. The location of the nuisance or condition.

3. Acts Necessary to Abate. A statement of the act or acts necessary to abate the nuisance or condition.

4. Reasonable Time. A reasonable time within which to complete the abatement.

5. Assessment of City Costs. A statement that if the nuisance or condition is not abated as directed and no request for hearing is made within the time prescribed, the City will abate it and assess the costs against such person.

56.03 Method of Service
56.03 METHOD OF SERVICE. The notice may be in the form of an ordinance pr sent by certified mail to the property owner. (Code of Iowa Sec. 364.12[3h])
56.04 Request for Hearing
56.04 REQUEST FOR HEARING. Any person ordered to abate a nuisance may have a hearing with the Council as to whether a nuisance exists. A request for a hearing must be made in writing and delivered to the Clerk within the time stated in the notice, or it will be conclusively presumed that a nuisance exists and it must be abated as ordered. The hearing will be before the Council at a time and place fixed by the Council. The findings of the Council shall be conclusive and, if a nuisance is found to exist, it shall be ordered abated within a reasonable time under the circumstances. 
56.05 Abatement in Emergency
56.05 ABATEMENT IN EMERGENCY. If it is determined that an emergency exists by reason of the continuing maintenance of the nuisance or condition, the City may perform any action which may be required under this chapter without prior notice. The City shall assess the costs as provided in Section 56.07 after notice to the property owner under the applicable provisions of Sections 56.01, 56.02 and 56.03 and hearing as provided in Section 56.04. (Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])
56.06 Abatement by City
56.06 ABATEMENT BY CITY. If the person notified to abate a nuisance or condition neglects or fails to abate as directed, the City may perform the required action to abate, keeping an accurate account of the expense incurred. The itemized expense account shall be filed with the Clerk who shall pay such expenses on behalf of the City. (Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])
56.07 Collection of Costs

56.07 COLLECTION OF COSTS. The clerk shall send a statement of the total expense incurred by certified mail to the property owner who has failed to abide by the notice to abate, and if the amount shown by the statement has not been paid within one ( 1) month, the Clerk shall certify the costs to the County Treasurer and such costs shall then be collected with, and in the same manner, as general property taxes. (Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])

56.08 Installment Payment of Cost of Abatement
56.08 INSTALLMENT PAYMENT OF COST OF ABATEMENT. If the amount expended to abate the nuisance or condition exceeds $100.00, the City may permit the assessment to be paid in up to 10 annual installments, to be paid in the same manner and with the same interest rates provided for assessments against benefited property under State law. (Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.13)
56.09 Failure to Abate
56.09 FAILURE TO ABATE. Any person causing or maintaining a nuisance who shall fail or refuse to abate or remove the same within the reasonable time required and specified in the notice to abate is in violation of this Code of Ordinances.
EDITOR'S NOTE
A suggested form of notice for the abatement . of nuisances 1s included in the appendix of this Code of Ordinances. Caution is urged in the use of this administrative abatement procedure, particularly where cost of abatement is more than minimal or where there is doubt as to whether or not a nuisance does in fact exist. If compliance is not secured following notice and hearings, we recommend you review the situation with your attorney before proceeding with abatement and assessment of costs. Your attorney may recommend proceedings in court under Chapter 657 of the Code of Iowa rather than this procedure.

Chapter 57
DESTRUCTION OF NOXIOUS WEEDS AND MOWING OF GRASS

57.01 Destruction of Noxious Weeds and Mowing of Grass by Owner or Occupant Required
57.01 DESTRUCTION OF NOXIOUS WEEDS AND MOWING OF GRASS BY OWNER OR OCCUPANT REQUIRED. All noxious weeds, as defined by State law, prohibited on any lot or parcel of land, and the parking adjacent thereto, shall be destroyed by the owner or party in possession of said property before the same shall have gone to seed. All grass growing on any such lot or parcel of land, and/or parking adjacent thereto, shall be mowed and kept mowed by the owners or persons in possession of such property to a height not in excess of the stated heights as provided by the Code of Ordinances.
57.02 Right of Entry to Destroy Noxious Weeds or Mow Grass
57.02 RIGHT OF ENTRY TO DESTROY NOXIOUS WEEDS OR MOW GRASS. Upon the failure of the owner or party in possession of any lot or parcel of land to destroy the noxious weeds or mow the grass thereon and on the parking adjacent thereto, as specified herein, the City, acting through its staff and employees, shall have full power arid authority to enter upon any such lot or parcel of land within the corporate limits of the City upon which noxious weeds or grass are growing for the purpose of destroying the noxious weeds and/or mowing the grass to a height not in excess of stated heights as provided by the Code of Ordinances.
57.03 Notice of lntention to Enter Property
57.03 NOTICE OF INTENTION TO ENTER PROPERTY. Before entering upon the property of another, the City shall give a five (5) day written notice to the owner of the lot or parcel of land by registered mail addressed to said owner, at the owner’s last known address, of the City’s intention to enter upon said property for the purpose of destroying noxious weeds and/or mowing grass to a height not in excess of stated heights as provided by the Code of Ordinances. A copy of said notice shall be sent by regular mail to the party in possession of the property. Said copy shall be sent to the party in possession at the property address or such other known address of the party in possession, at least five (5) days prior to the City’s entry upon the lot or parcel of land to destroy noxious weeds or mow grass on said property and parking adjacent thereto. In the event there is no one in possession of the property, or it is abandoned, and in addition, the address of the owner is unmown, the owner is deceased, delivery of registered mail is refused by the owner, or for such other reason deemed appropriate by the City staff when there is otherwise no known current address available for delivery of registered mail to the owner, the City may publish in the Webster City Freeman-Journal notice of its intent to enter upon the property for the purpose of destroying noxious weeds and/or mowing grass not less than 10 days prior to the actual entry upon the property for such purposes. A copy of the notice to be published shall be sent to the owner of the property at the owner’s last known address, by regular mail, deposited in a U. S. mail depository at least 10 days prior to the City’s entry upon the said property to destroy noxious weeds or mow grass. 
57.04 City's Ongoing Right of Entry for Continued Failure of Owner or Party in Possession to Destroy Noxious Weeds or Mow Grass
57.04 CITY’S ONGOING RIGHT OF ENTRY FOR CONTINUED FAILURE OF OWNER OR PARTY IN POSSESSION TO DESTROY NOXIOUS WEEDS OR MOW GRASS. Once the City has entered a lot or parcel of land to destroy noxious weeds or to mow grass after giving notice as provided in Section 57.03, the City’s right of entry to destroy noxious weeds or to mow grass existing on the property or adjacent parking shall continue for the duration of the growing season, and until November 1 of each year, without the necessity of the City giving any further or additional notice to the owner or party in possession.
57.05 Assessment and Collection of Costs
57.05 ASSESSMENT AND COLLECTION OF COSTS. When the City, acting through its staff or employees shall have cause to destroy any noxious weeds or mow grass of a height in excess of the stated heights as provided by the Code of Ordinances, after failure of the land owner or party in possession pursuant to an order of the City, acting through its staff responsible for issuing such order or orders, the cost of such destruction of noxious weeds and/or mowing of grass by the City, acting through its staff and employees, ·shall be assessed against and collected from the land owner in the following manner:

1. The City Clerk shall notify the owner of the property by registered mail that the work related to the destruction of noxious weeds and/or mowing of grass has been completed and state therein the amount due for said work. The owner shall have thirty (30) days in which to pay the amount specified at the office of the City Clerk.

2. If at the end of the above said 30-day period, the owner has not paid the cost of such work related to destruction of noxious weeds and/or mowing of grass, the City shall thereupon take whatever action it deems necessary to recover the amount expended for such work related to the destruction of noxious weeds and/or mowing of grass.