ORDINANCE NO. 2007-07
(00-002 revised)

WEEDS, RANK VEGETATION, AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL NUISANCES

I.         PURPOSE AND INTENT

It is the purpose of this ordinance to protect the public safety, health and welfare and enhance the environment of the people of the town by making it unlawful to allow an environmental public nuisance to exist. It is the express intent of this chapter to adopt IC 36-7-10.1-1 et. seq.

II.       ADMINISTRATION OF ORDINANCE

It shall be the responsibility of the Leo-Cedarville Town Council, or its designated agent, to administer this ordinance. Any individual officer, employee, or agent of the Town may be designated by the Town Council to make environmental public nuisance inspections and to issue complaints and notices as provided in this ordinance.

III.      DEFINITIONS

For the purpose of this ordinance the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.

A.       WEEDS AND RANK VEGITATION. Uncultivated and undesirable plant life which grows excessively and unmanageably upon the land and has little or no public value, including, but not limited to, grass (over nine (9) inches in height), thistles, burdock, jimson weed, ragweed, milkweed, poison ivy, poison oak, ironweed, and other noxious vegetable matter. The term does not include agricultural crops, hay, pasture, trees, bushes or shrubs which have been planted or cultivated by the owner or occupant of the property.

B.       ENVIRONMENTAL PUBLIC NUISANCE

(1)   Any growth of weeds and rank vegetation on private or governmental property which has gone to seed, or which has attained a height of nine (9) inches or more.

(2)   Any accumulation of dead weeds, grass or brush on private or governmental property.

(3)   Any poison ivy, ragweed or other poisonous plant, or plants detrimental to health, growing on any private or governmental property.

(4)   Property which has been allowed to become a health or safety hazard, or which has accumulated litter or waste products, unless specifically authorized under existing laws and regulations.

C.       EXCLUDED PROPERTY. Land cultivated for gross profit in a commercial, or agricultural zone; a natural or developed forest, which does not create a health or safety hazard; and open lands, fields or wooded areas more than 150 feet from any occupied property. Any land that is the subject of a Conservation Reserve Program (“CRP”) with the United States Department of Agriculture or other contract with the State of Indiana or the Federal Government which prohibits mowing or spraying for weed control for purposes of preserving wildlife habitat. Also, any classified wetlands, designated reforestation or prairie grass/garden areas, waterfront management areas and riverfront areas.

IV.      PROHIBITED ACTIVITY.

It shall be unlawful for any owner of private property or governmental property to allow an environmental public nuisance to exist on that property, except on excluded property.

V.       DETERMINATION OF VIOLATION

(A)  Complaint.  Upon receiving a complaint of any environmental public nuisance, or upon otherwise discovering such a public nuisance, the Town Council (or a duly authorized agent of the Council) shall issue a Notice to Abate to the owner(s) of record of the property containing the environmental public nuisance.

(B)  Notice to abate.  The Council or its Authorized Agent shall cause a written notice to abate to be served upon the owner(s) of the property in question, granting such owner(s) a minimum of five calendar days in which to remove the environmental nuisance. This notice shall be served by personal service, by certified mail, or by a “notice” placard conspicuously posted on the subject property. Such notice to abate shall contain the following information: The address of the property containing the violation, the date of the notice, the nature of the violation, and a warning that the Town through its agent(s) or contractor(s) will enter onto the property to abate the violation if the owner fails to abate the violation by a specific date not less that five calendar days after mailing/posting of the notice. The notice shall also contain a warning that if the Town is forced to abate the nuisance, the Town will place a lien against the property to secure repayment of the actual costs involved in the removal of the nuisance and any penalties assessed. The town may cut weeds as many times as is necessary and charge the actual costs to the property owner.

(C)  Inspection.  Following the expiration of the Notice to Abate, the Town Council or an authorized agent shall visually inspect the property to determine whether an environmental public nuisance exists. Action shall be taken to abate any remaining nuisance.

VI.        PROPERTY OWNER’S RIGHT TO APPEAL NOTICE OF VIOLATION

(A) Upon receipt of a notice to abate, the property owner may object to the notice and notify the Town Council of an intent to appeal the determination that the violation contained in the notice to abate. This correspondence shall be in writing, and shall specify the street address of the property involved. Any such correspondence must be received by the Town Council through its authorized agent or through the Leo-Cedarville Clerk Treasurer within the amount of time set out in the notice to abate.

(B) Upon receipt of such correspondence, the authorized agent or Clerk-Treasurer shall provide copies of same to the Town Attorney and to each member of the Town Council who shall cause the objection to be investigated and shall set the matter for hearing at a special meeting or at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Town Council. The Council shall inform the owner of the date and time of the hearing during which the council will address the notice to abate and the objection thereto. At the hearing, the Council or its authorized agent shall specifically notify the owner of the exact nature of the alleged violation and the evidence which tends to establish the violation. The owner shall have a right to address the council, to submit photographs, written documents, or other physical evidence or verbal testimony to the Council that, in the judgment of the Council, is relevant to the issue of the alleged violation. The owner shall have the right to be represented by an attorney. The hearing on the issue may be continued by the Council from time to time if necessary, but no further action shall be pursued against that owner to abate the environmental public nuisance until resolutions of the objection thereto. Upon the conclusion of the meeting, the Council shall make a finding, by majority vote, as to whether a violation of this ordinance exists. If a violation is found to exist, the Council shall give the owner additional time, not less than five days, to abate the violation. The findings of the Council, a description of any continuing violation, and the deadline for abating any such violation shall be issued in writing signed by the president of the Council and attested by the Clerk-Treasurer, and a copy shall be delivered to the owner.

VII.       EMERGENCY ABATEMENT

Any environmental public nuisance blocks or prohibits the view of any oncoming traffic or otherwise poses a significant danger to the safety of others or their property, the Town Council or its authorized agent may waive the five day grace period and abate the problem as soon as possible if it is deemed necessary in the exercise of reasonable care to safeguard the safety of others and their property. In such event, the owner shall be afforded an opportunity for a hearing as specified in paragraph VI(B) above, before any fines, costs, penalties or assessments are imposed.

VIII.      ENFORCEMENT.

(A)  Citation for violation.  If the Town Council finds that an environmental public nuisance exists on private property and has not been abated as directed in the written notice to abate, the Council or authorized agent may cause a citation for violation of town ordinance to be issued to the offending property owner. Such citation shall include the amount of any fine assessed by the Town Council in accordance with chapter X below.

(B)  Abatement.  If no objection to the notice to abate has been received (as specified below) the Town Council may instruct its agent or contractor to enter onto the property to abate the violation. Written notice shall be provided to the property owner at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to entry onto the property. Such notice shall provide the date and time that the Council’s agent will enter onto the property and shall describe the abatement action that will be taken. If, on the date in question, the owner refuses to allow the Council’s agent onto the property to abate the violation. The agent shall cease all abatement activity, and the Council may, at its discretion bring a legal action seeking an injunction against the owner to compel the owner to abate the violation. In such event, the owner shall be liable to the Town for all costs associated with such legal action, including attorney fees.

(B)  Invoice for abatement of violation by Town.  In additional to the issuance of a citation for violation of a town ordinance under division (A) of this section, if the Council itself (or through an agent or contractor) abated the violation, the Council shall make a statement of the actual cost incurred in eliminating the environmental public nuisance. The costs shall include: cost of removal of the public nuisance, administrative fees, and all recording fees associated with the collection of the outstanding balance. Said statement shall be delivered to the property owner by first-class mail. The owner shall pay the amount noted to the town within 30 days after receipt, which shall be deposited to the Town’s general fund.

(C)   Failure to pay.  If the owner fails to pay the costs of abatement within 30 days after receiving a statement, a copy of all costs shall be filed in the Office of the Auditor of Allen County for the purpose of placing the amount claimed on the tax duplicate against the property so that the amount claimed can be collected as taxes are collected, subject to the limitations above.

IX.    SEVERABILITY

If any provisions or term of this chapter, or any application thereof, is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other applications of the provisions or terms of this chapter which reasonably can be given effect without the invalid section.

X.      PENALTIES

(A) Any person violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be fined for each offense, in any sum not less than $25 nor more than $100, and each day’s violation shall constitute a separate offense.

(B) In addition to any fine imposed herein, the offender shall be responsible for all costs of abatement and the recording and administrative fees as set forth above, and for any legal costs incurred by the Town.

Passed and adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Leo-Cedarville, Indiana on this 20th day of November, 2007.

 

  John Clendenen  
John Clendenen

  Janice Linn         
Jan Linn

_______________________
Michael Young

  Paul Steffens       
Paul Steffens

  Cindy J. Kimm    
Cindy Kimm

Attested:   Pam Spannuth  
Pamela Spannuth