Council approves nuisance ordinance at marathon meeting

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A two and a half hour city council meeting ended last night with the passing of a much debated amendment to the city’s nuisance code. The council passed the amended ordinance 4-1, with only councilman “JR” Richards voting against. The new ordinance goes into effect on April 1st, and will prohibit parking on the grassy area of yards, as well as lower the maximum grass length to 10 inches.

Several members of the audience stood to speak in favor and opposed to the amendment, including former councilmen Keith Caviness. He stood to say that if existing rules would be enforced, we wouldn’t be having these problems in the first place.

Bill Allen, a member of the Make Ottumwa Shine Committee, said that this ordinance needed passed to curtail the problem before it gets any worse.

Several of the councilmen said that their decision was based on what was right for the future of Ottumwa. Mitch Niner says that the new ordinance will not be an overnight success. “This thing might go a year and it might get trashed, but at least we tried.”

Jody Gates is the head of the city’s health and inspections department, who will be responsible for enforcing these ordinances. She says that the city will be realigning staff in order to get a second code enforcement officer, which will help enforce this new ordinance as well as be proactive instead of reactive when enforcing the city’s code.