La Crosse City Council votes to change chronic nuisance rules
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — La Crosse’s city council approved changes Thursday night to the city’s chronic nuisance ordinance.
Under the current ordinance, after four nuisance violations at one address within a 12-month period, that property is considered a chronic nuisance.
But under the amended ordinance, a property will get that designation after just three violations.
And while city officials say they don’t have many violators, they hope the changes will help improve area neighborhoods.
“Generally when we write an order to correct or have a nuisance or violation to a property, most property owners are quick to take care of those issues. We do have a few lingering out there that are not so much. This ordinance is just to help improve our neighborhoods and improve the safety within the city of La Crosse,” said La Crosse Fire Dept. Division Chief Craig Snyder.
In the ordinance, there’s a list of certain nuisances such as high grass and weeds, unshoveled sidewalks, exterior appearance issues, garbage issues, police enforcement issues on the property, or fire code violations.
Changes could be coming to a La Crosse ordinance that could help improve and protect neighborhoods.
The potential changes to property-enforcement rules in the city are aimed at properties known as a chronic nuisance.
The La Crosse City Council is set to vote on the amended ordinance Thursday night.
A chronic nuisance property is one that La Crosse officials have continuous problems with. Thankfully the city said it doesn’t have many of those, but there have been enough to warrant the community to speak up and ask for change.
Sometimes a property owner just doesn’t have the time to fix up a house or mow the grass. It happens. The city of La Crosse understands that. Eventually, they will get things cleaned up; no harm, no foul.
But not all properties are that way.
“There are just certain properties that we need to take a harder look at,” District 1 City Council member Andrea Richmond said.
That’s where the city has to step in under its nuisance ordinance.
“In the ordinance there’s a list of certain nuisances that would be involved, such as high grass and weeds, unshoveled sidewalks, exterior appearance issues, garbage issues, police enforcement issues on the property, or fire code violations, just to name a few,” La Crosse Fire Department Division Chief Craig Snyder said.
Under the current ordinance, after four nuisance violations at one address within a 12-month period, that property is considered a chronic nuisance. But under the amended ordinance being voted on tonight, that would be reduced to three violations.
“Then we would bring that property owner in and sit down and have a discussion with that property owner as to what’s going on on the property, what we can do to help them abate those issues and take care of that nuisance,” Snyder said.
The city said this change reflects what it has heard from residents.
“It stemmed from, I believe, the neighborhood associations wanting more enforcement,” Richmond said.
The city believes the changes could have a significant outcome on La Crosse neighborhoods.
“This ordinance is just to help improve our neighborhoods and improve the safety within the city of La Crosse,” Snyder said.
One of the most significant changes to the nuisance ordinance is just a language change, moving the chief of the fire department to an enforcement officer, instead of the director of planning and development.
Another change requires property owners keep their grass and weeds below 8 inches. The current height is 10 inches.
Richmond expects the amended ordinance to pass unanimously.