River Falls finally passes ordinance to force clean-up

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 21, 2017

After years of discussion, the River Falls Town Council finally passed an ordinance that will force property owners to cleanup.

Last month, the council introduced an ordinance that addressed unsafe structures and dangerous buildings.

Former Councilwoman Mattie Freeney has been spearheading the effort to get the ordinance passed for years.

“We identified some properties where people were complaining,” she said. “Town attorney William Alverson is sending out letters to those property owners. Hopefully there will be some other areas that can be attended to. Most of the areas are places that no one lives at, and they are so close to houses, where people do live. I’m so thankful. You have no idea how thankful. Since, I first got on the council, this is something that I have been trying to get done. It has been done and I’m so thankful.”

The ordinance defines dangerous buildings as any building, shed, fence or other man-made structure:

• which is dangerous to the public health because of its condition, and which may cause or aid in the spread of disease, or injury to the health of the occupants of it or neighboring structures.

• which because of faulty construction, age, lack of proper repair or any other cause, is especially liable to fire and constitutes or creates fire hazard.

• which by reason of faulty construction or ay other cause, is liable to cause injury or damage by collapsing or by a collapse or fall of any part of such structure; or

• which because of its condition or because of lack of doors or windows is available to and frequented by malefactors or disorderly persons who are not lawful occupants of such structure.

Properties that violate any of those terms will be considered a nuisance.

The fire chief or police chief will be the one to alert the town council of the nuisance by filing a written statement to the town clerk.

The clerk will then notify the property owner either by registered mail, certified mail, return receipt requested or by personal service.

Property owners will have up to 90 days to remedy the nuisance.

Property owners do have 10 days to file an appeal and be granted a hearing.

Those who choose not to remedy the situation; the town will do so for them at their expense, which will be assessed against their property on their property taxes.

Additionally, the ordinance covers sustainably damaged structures

The ordinance says that any building or structure within the town limits that has been damaged by fire, decay or other causes to the extent of 50 percent of its value must be torn down and removed or rebuilt to building code of the town or River Falls.