The Ottumwa Municipal Code generally defines a nuisance as; “Whatever is injurious to health, indecent, offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property so as essentially to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property is a nuisance.” Examples of nuisances that inspectors are looking for include: tall grass or weeds over ten inches tall, trash or brush piles in yards and junk motor vehicles.
Tall Grass and Weeds
Grass or weeds that are over ten inches high are classified as a nuisance under City Code. Property owners who allow grass or weeds to grow over ten inches on their property are subject to civil citation.
Trash, Junk & Filth
Accumulations of trash, junk piles, brush piles and improper disposal of trash are prohibited in Ottumwa. These nuisances prevent neighbors from having full enjoyment of their property and keeps potentially recyclable and usable materials from being put back to productive use.
Junk Motor Vehicles
Under City Code, a vehicle stored outside that is unlicensed for the current year, inoperable and unable to move under its own power, or a threat to the public safety, it is considered a Junk Motor Vehicle.
Inspection and Abatement
City Code allows Health Inspectors to enter private yards to investigate any nuisance or source of filth. Inspectors record and document nuisances they find. The resident will receive a written notice from the Health Department with specific information about the nuisance and a date for re-inspection. Except in the most extreme cases, the property owner is always given an opportunity to abate the nuisance themselves, without citations or fines being issued.
If the violation is not resolved by the listed date, a civil citation can be issued. In addition, if the property owner does not resolve the nuisance, the City can then take action to abate the nuisance. The cost of the action will be billed to the owner. Residents are asked to be cooperative with the Health Department staff. Attempting to prevent any public employee from performing their duty is a misdemeanor.
The Fines for Civil citations are:
•$250 for a first citation in a 12-month period
•$500 for a second violation
•$750 for third and subsequent violations within the same 12-month period.