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Grandview City Council tables nuisance ordinance amendments

GRANDVIEW - A last minute addition to Grandview's City Council agenda Monday night, amendments to the city's nuisance ordinances, were tabled as members of the council indicated they weren't comfortable voting on an issue they hadn't looked at yet.

Retiring City Administrator Jim Sewell, whose last day with the city will be this Friday, said the changes were necessary to eliminate a conflict and allow police to ticket nuisance ordinance violators.

"As we were ramping up the enforcement we found a glitch," Sewell said.

That glitch is a conflict between two of the city's municipal codes regarding ticketing and fines for specific violations.

Specifically, Sewell said there's a conflict between the city's nuisance code and the animal control code.

In that case, a barking dog falls under both categories, however the nuisance code calls for much stricter penalties, Sewell said. The new nuisance code calls for a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail.

The animal control code calls for a $25 fine for the first offense, $50 for the second offense, $100 for a third offense, and $150 for a fourth offense.

Those penalties are for the same offense, Sewell said. He said there have been cases in which an offender has just repeatedly paid the fine, continuing the nuisance problem.

The amendments to the ordinances would have cleared up that area and allowed for better enforcement, Sewell said.

"It was one of the things I wanted to clean up before I retire," he said.

Sewell told the council that the city's police officers have been very interested in getting the changes so they can start ticketing offenders and hopefully curb nuisance problems in the city.

According to the proposed changes, two classes of nuisances would be created - class A and class B.

Class A nuisances would be considered criminal offenses and would include problems that should be immediately stopped, such as noise, traffic obstructions, barking dogs, dangerous buildings and environmental nuisances.

Class B nuisances would be considered civil nuisances and would be handled by a notice to fix the problem. Those things would include weeds, dying shrubs, appliances, junk and vehicles in a person's yard.

In addition, if a dog's owner was convicted of three offenses in 12 months, Sewell said the dog could be confiscated by the city. However, Sewell said it's likely that the dog's owner could simply pay to get the dog out and take it home where it would continue to be a problem.

"If you confiscate it and hold it for a week it's still going to be a barking, whining problem," said Mayor Norm Childress.

Sewell said City Attorney Jack Maxwell would look at ways to fix that loophole in the ordinance and bring it back to the council at the next meeting.

Councilwoman Helen Darr also pointed out that many breeds of dogs can be quite valuable and many owners might get upset about having their pet taken away.

"Some of these owners can get a little excited," she said.

Despite Sewell's insistence that police were eager to get the changes to the ordinance, the council opted not to approve the changes.

"The police department is quite anxious to get these changes so they can start ticketing," Sewell said.

The council will not have the chance to approve the changes for about a month as the council canceled its April 3 meeting. The city council will not meet officially next month until April 17.

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