Nuisance properties dominate discussion during city council meeting public forum

Dozens of concerned Wessington Springs residents filled City Hall Monday, with nuisance properties around town the focus of public forum during the July 26 city council meeting. 

Heavy equipment, construction materials and unsightly vehicles parked on lots in residential areas sparked lively discussion regarding city ordinances and their enforceability. 

“We are redoing ordinances and making changes. They aren’t as well-defined as they should be,” said City Attorney Gary Blue, speaking via teleconference during the meeting.

Blue continued to explain the process through which nuisance properties are addressed within city limits. 

“When we receive a complaint from a concerned citizen, I take pictures and send it to the compliance officer for the city,” Blue said. “He then makes the determination if a violation exists and sends a letter to the property owner with the violation and a stated time to correct it.” 

Blue continued to spell out the next steps in the process: 

“If the property owner doesn’t correct it, they get a warning letter. If it still isn’t directed, they get a complaint and then it goes to court.” 

After public forum, Tom Mebius was listed on the agenda. He spoke to the council about the recently-purchased lot to the north of his home on Dakota Avenue.

“After the lot was purchased, four days later a road grader was parked on it. Two days later, two semi trailers were parked there. This is a residential area,” Mebius explained. “Thirty feet away from my bedroom window is a road grader. People driving up to the rodeo grounds see that and say, ‘what kind of town are we coming to?’”

Blue stated in an interview with the True Dakotan after the meeting that the property owner has applied for a building permit and told Blue that the equipment is staged on the property in preparation for an upcoming home construction project. Blue said that the building permit has not yet been approved because the application must first be approved by the local zoning board. A zoning board meeting has not yet been set and details about the meeting will be published in the True Dakotan. 

“I’m here addressing the council because I want to show respect for the neighborhood,” Mebius continued. “You as a town council, please show respect for the community.” 

According to Blue, he photographed the site and the case is currently in the hands of the compliance officer.