LAHARPE — A little common sense will go a long way when it comes to more strict enforcement of code violations, LaHarpe City Council members agreed Monday.
The Council met in a special session with a handful of local residents who had been given notices on various violations ranging from overgrown lawns to disabled vehicles. The residents had asked for extensions to clear their properties for one reason or another.
As the audience members addressed the Council, most of the issues had been, or soon will be taken care of.
“We’re really trying to clean things up,” Mayor Mae Crowell said.
The disabled vehicle ordinance drew much of the Council’s attention.
Cars that are not tagged, insured and in running order must now be covered with a neutral colored tarp and on a trailer.
However, Crowell noted that long-term repair projects and restorations can still go on.
“We’re not saying you have to work on a vehicle all day, every day,” Crowell said. “But if you know … you’re not going to work on a vehicle for two or three weeks, it needs to go on a trailer. You guys know what you’re working on and what you’re not.”
It boils down to common sense, the mayor continued.
“That’s all we’re asking,” she said. “We have a lot of inoperable vehicles in town that have been there for years. It’s time for them to be gone.”
THE IMPETUS for the stricter enforcement, Councilman David Lee said, is to preserve property values across the community, and to make LaHarpe an appealing community to draw new residents.
And the stricter enforcement means everybody, Lee emphasized, pointing to a notice he received on a car he kept stored in a shed that was visible from the street, an apparent violation of the city’s new ordinance. (He’s moving the vehicle to another location.)
“There are folks around this (Council) table who have been given notices,” he said.
Councilman Danny Ware said residents are resistant to change.
“Nobody likes being told what to do,” Ware said. “That’s how this country got founded.”
That said, “LaHarpe’s the third largest city in the county,” Ware continued. “I don’t think we’re asking anything of anybody that’s not being asked in Iola, Humboldt or Moran.”
Ware predicted a year from now residents will appreciate having a cleaner city.
Ware pointed to a property next to his “that’s mowed only twice a year.”
The over-grown weeds have led to a plethora of mice in his home and snakes in his yard.
“We’ve killed at least 15 mice,” Ware said. “Would you be upset if it was you? Or if you walk on your front porch and you step on a snake? I’m no better than anybody else, but these things need to be done.”
IN TWO instances, the Council asked residents to come in with written variance requests, the first for a disabled resident who restores vehicles despite suffering from chronic back pain that slows his ability to work for extended periods. He’ll likely be given a three-month extension to get as many as six vehicles up and going.
Another resident is asking for a variance limiting the number of horses she can keep on a plot of land that’s less than 2 acres.
While the six horses are three more than allowed for a plot of land that size, Crowell and Lee both noted the horses are well fed and healthy.
Those requests should be formally submitted for the council to consider by its Sept. 14 meeting, Crowell said.