Dexter Village Council unanimously OKs nuisance ordinance changes to be used in 'extreme cases'
The Village of Dexter has added some teeth to its nuisance ordinance for those extreme cases where compliance becomes an ongoing issue.
Following a public hearing Monday night during which no one spoke, and the previous approval of the village’s Planning Commission, the Village Council unanimously adopted amendments to its ordinance that will allow officials to clean-up and collect overdue fines and costs for extreme public nuisances by adding the costs to the repeat violator’s property taxes.
However, Allison Bishop, community development director, said the goal was to fix violations, and the stepped-up regulations would only be used in extreme cases for ongoing violations, which could not be remedied otherwise.
The changes will allow the village to get the mess cleaned up, and if the property owner does not pay, the fees could be added to the violator’s tax bill.
“I really try to work with people and try to come up with an abatement plan before I go to court,” she said, admitting that perhaps she worked too hard to remedy situations before seeking ramped-up means to abate unsightly situations such as accumulated junk.
And, although the ordinance allows the zoning enforcement officer to go after property owners who have peeling paint on their homes, she said she’s never done that.
However, she’s been having trouble getting any kind of response from one particular unnamed village property owner for an accumulation of junk and rubbish that’s not inside a building. Despite several court appearances and about $1,200 in fines, the problem has yet to be fixed.
“I’ve tried and tried and gone to court a number of times and I just can’t get a response out of her,” Bishop said.
The changes in the ordinance will allow the village to remedy problemslike this by adding the fines and clean-up costs to the property owner’s tax bill if they are not paid.
It’s a remedy that several cities have enacted, including Chelsea and Ann Arbor, but one that will be used only as a last resort in Dexter, Bishop said.
In fact, the changes to the village’s ordinance are based in part on a section of Ann Arbor’s outdoor storage abatement ordinance, according to a memo from Bishop.
The amendments were added to assist the village’s zoning office “to achieve compliance and abate violations,” Bishop’s memo states.
“I try to get compliance before I start issuing fines,” she said for things like unlicensed vehicles, overgrown weeds and sign violations.
In fact, she said she’s issues 57 sign violation communications this year.
The amended ordinance is “for extreme situations and I don’t anticipate using it,” very often, she said.
Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Dexter stories, visit our Dexter page.