The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Brandon Cline
Managing Editor 

City holds 'show cause' hearings in effort to impose nuisance ordinance

 


Nine ‘show cause’ hearings were the stars of the Ritzville City Council meeting on May 7, as the City continues its crackdown on properties violating Ritzville’s nuisance ordinance.

Collectively, the nine hearings took close to an hour to get through, as councilmembers voted to either: take no further action on a property; grant an extension to allow more time for the landowners to continue addressing the problems laid out by the City; or to adopt a resolution ordering the abatement of the nuisance on behalf of the City, at the cost of the landowner.

Many of the show cause hearings dealt with properties that were—and in some cases still are—littered with what the City classifies as “junk vehicles,” as well as out-of-use appliances and ordinary garbage.

Of the nine hearings, the council resolved just one of them by taking no further action. By taking no more action, the council is essentially saying that it believes the landowners have done enough work the past few weeks for the property to no longer be in violation of the nuisance ordinance (Chapter 3.36 of the Ritzville City Code).

Landowners were notified of their violation of the ordinance via a letter dated in late March, and were notified by letter again of the show cause hearing in late April. The letter notifying the owners of their violation of the ordinance explained that the conditions of their property had been determined to be “a hazard and a menace to the public health, safety and welfare” to the city. The letters also explained what the specific problems were with the current conditions of the properties deemed to be in violation of the ordinance.

In the other eight hearings held during the meeting, the council either allowed an extension or moved forward with a resolution. Extensions were given when the councilmembers believed that the landowners had given “good-faith” efforts and just needed some more time to finish cleaning up their properties. Resolutions were voted on and approved when the council believed that the landowners had not seriously tried to address the issues as detailed in the letters from the City.

In making these determinations, the council relied heavily on the input from John Hunt, Ritzville’s Code Enforcement Officer. Hunt has visited the properties several times throughout the process to talk with the landowners and make note of how much—or how little—progress has been made. Hunt also shared before-and-after photos with the council as part of a slideshow presentation of the nine properties for the hearings.

 

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