The Janesville City Council dealt with a bit of a nuisance at its July 8 meeting.
Two nuisance complaints that have been going on for months, and even years, were brought forward to the council for resolution.
“From time-to-time, we get an anonymous complaint that we have to act on; it’s not that common to go to the City Council,” City Administrator Clinton Rogers said.
Normally a nuisance complaint is brought to the attention of the city and the owner of the property is notified to handle the situation. The ones that were presented to the City Council were ones that supposedly didn’t respond to the letters asking the owners to clean up their yards.
The first one discussed was for a property on North Street West. This property had received complaints in July of 2018. A letter was sent to the property owner, Leigh Erickson, along with pictures to show what the city was referring to.
Nothing was done and more complaints were received. More inspections were done in August 2018 and March and June 2019.
A March 25, 2019 letter sent from Janesville City Attorney Jason Moran listed items that were to be removed or updated. Vehicles in the driveway were to have current tabs on them or to be operable and the fish house in the driveway needed to be removed or moved to the backyard.
After numerous more letters and Moran reaching out with a reference to legal action, there was still no response. This forced the city to bring the nuisance complaint to legal action. In April 2019, the property owner was charged with public health and safety nuisance and was convicted. The property owner received a petty misdemeanor and was charged fees totaling $125.
The Erickson was charged criminally with violation of the nuisance ordinance in Janesville. This was brought before the City Council to handle, because nothing was being done to the property. The council voted in favor of allowing the city administrator to abate the nuisance conditions on the property using city personnel and equipment or private contract.
The city is working on getting a crew together and finding a time to clean the property. Once the property is cleaned, the owner will be charged the cost of the abatement plus five percent for inspection and other administrative costs.
The second nuisance discussed was a property on Second Street owned by Diane Radunz. Any action from the council was tabled on the night, as the property owners and residents attended the meeting and said the property had been cleaned up.
The property has been receiving complaints since December 2017. A letter written to Radunz from Moran states that on May 12, 2019, there was to be a city inspection, and if found to be not cleaned up, the property could be subject to fine and penalty.
According to the documents provided and pictures as of June 6, there had been no progress. But Radunz and family were in attendance at the council meeting Monday to speak about the property.
“I think I’ve cleaned it up pretty well,” property resident and Radunz’s husband Terry Lundgren said. “It did get a little away from me, because I’ve been having some issues, but I think it looks pretty good at the moment.”
The family in attendance wanted the council to provide more specifics as to what should be cleaned up in the yard, because they felt the pictures showing the nuisance were too vague.
“The big thing here is we’re looking for appearance, because Janesville Matters has done a lot for this town …,” Mayor Mike Santo said.
“I would like to resolve this as soon as possible because I have other things to do,” Lundgren said.
According to the family, they have worked on being compliant to the ordinance, but no councilors had been past the property recently to confirm. This caused the council to vote to table the nuisance complaint until the next council meeting when the city is able to verify the progress on the property.
Councilor Melissa Kopachek told the family that she appreciates that they took the time to show up to the meeting. Mayor Santo agreed.
“I appreciate you guys coming and talking to us about it, and we will make sure the progress is happening and that you guys have a clear list of what needs to be done,” he said.