Abandoned properties continue to pose problems

The City of Minot wants to put additional teeth into enforcement of ordinances being used to require clean up of abandoned flood properties.

Minot’s new city attorney, Colleen Auer, told the Minot City Council’s Public Works and Safety Committee Wednesday that she is looking into code enforcement options on abandoned properties that would give the city more authority to take action. The city can act now if health and safety concerns are present, although it must follow an owner notification process that delays cleanup.

Auer said property rights still would be protected under any ordinance revisions, but there are opportunities to increase enforcement powers and impose fines and penalties for noncompliance.

Committee member Dave Lehner had raised the issue of abandoned homes at the meeting, noting that concerned neighbors often don’t understand the city’s jurisdictional limits. As warmer temperatures arrive, the weeds will come with it, and the city has limited staff to keep up with it, he said.

Public works director Dan Jonasson confirmed that the city doesn’t have a crew designated to mowing. It hires temporary, summer help and will pull employees from street and utilities work when possible and necessary to help with mowing.

When the city receives a complaint about unmowed property, it cannot respond immediately, he said. The city must notify the owner and allow a period of time to take care of the problem before the city can mow and bill the owner.