SIKESTON - Rental property and vacant lot owners will receive notice and a seven-day grace period for property maintenance violations - but only three times.
Following a lengthy discussion during their regular meeting Tuesday, Sikeston City Council members finally agreed to give three e-mail warnings to owners of rental property who are cited for property maintenance violations and to vacant lot owners cited for trash or junk on their lot. With zero-tolerance policies in effect, both residents and landowners are cited for property maintenance violations.
Property owners will now be notified and have seven days to bring their property into compliance and have the citation dismissed. Vacant lot owners will not receive notice or a grace period for tall weeds and grass, however.
"People know they have to mow their grass and weeds," Councilman Phil Boyer said.
Also, zero-tolerance remains in effect for those residing in the home.
City Manager Doug Friend opened the discussion by presenting staff's plan to send e-mail notification to rental property owners when a citation is issued on their property. He said both phone contact and conventional mail were dismissed as notification methods due to the time factor.
"Less that 5 percent of landlords have been impacted by appearances in court," Friend said. He suggested limiting the number of notices.
"If we have to do it unlimited, then we are the property managers," Friend reasoned. "Ninety percent of the landlords aren't going to need this service."
Notably missing at the meeting were the landlords who previously demanded Council members make changes to the city's zero-tolerance policies for property maintenance to allow them time to fix violations that occur on their properties between their inspections.
For the time being, e-mail notices will be sent manually although "we are already purchasing software to make it automatic," Friend said.
Mayor Mike Marshall said those who wish to be landlords in Sikeston will either make sure they have e-mail to receive the notices or check their property frequently if they don't wish to end up with fines for violations on their property.
In other City Council business during Tuesday's meeting:
* A bill authorizing the vacation of Linn Drive between Main Street and the alley of Moore Street was approved.
The vacation of the road section was described as being "an integral component" of the Walgreens development at the old Missouri Department of Transportation site in a letter from Koman Properties, the developer.
* A bill was approved which creates no-parking zones on both sides of the 300 block of Baker Lane from 2-4 p.m.; on the 100 block of Luther Street; and on the north side of Washington Street.
* Council members approved a bill amending city code to create the position of associate municipal judge.
Friend said the bill provides for one or more associate judges to be hired by the city manager for terms of not less than two years which can serve in the event of disqualification, disability or absence of the city's municipal judge.
* The bill amending city code relating to the Department of Economic Development Executive Board was read for the first time.
Friend said the bill will be discussed at the Sept. 27 briefing session in preparation for final action at the regular October City Council meeting.
* The Council approved $74,886 for asphalt parking and storm sewer improvements at the VFW Baseball Park and a budget amendment of about $25,000 under Park Division capital improvement projects.
Friend said some of the cost may be reimbursed by Sikeston Public Schools. The project will be under way this fall to have it ready for spring, Friend said.
* Authorization to grant an extension for the state block grant for the Sikeston Memorial Airport's weather observation station construction was approved.
Funding from an entitlement program in the amount of $416,860 was approved which should leave $301,860 to be applied toward runway apron improvements.
"By this time next year it will all be taken care of," Friend said.