City tries working with residents to clear structures from public land
MONROE - It hasn’t always been clear what the city can do when it stumbles upon a resident’s private structure — such as a porch or trampoline — built on public property, especially when it stands in the way of necessary maintenance.
The City Council almost has reached a consensus on how to deal with the problem. A policy has been drafted that will help residents and city staff work together to remove the private property amicably. The city attorney still needs to review it before adoption.
The council reviewed the policy at last week’s meeting, which is intended to “allow for a clear, consistent and easily understood process for staff and citizens to follow when dealing with private use of city property and access obstructions.”
The private structures impeding the city from doing storm water system maintenance and clearing blackberry bushes affect approximately 22 properties.
The new policy would give private property owners nine months to remove the items.
This summer, the number of illegal private structures on city property or city easements caused enough complaints within the city to “reach a boiling point,” public works director Brad Feilberg said in July.
The city sent five property owners each a letter, which gave them 30 days to remove their private structures or the city would forcibly remove the items and send the resident the bill.
Some residents were upset with the short amount of time to deal with the problem and several showed up to council meetings to appeal for more time.
Feilberg admitted in September that the city “went a little overboard” with the letter, and he said he would work with the council to draft a more lenient policy.
“I would be really shocked to know I only had 30 days,” Councilman Kevin Hanford said in September. “If I were them, I’d be here appealing to council.”
Mayor Robert Zimmerman said he expects the new policy will be approved by the city attorney and passed by the council.
Check out our online Publications!