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Staying within the law

By Staff | Jul 22, 2009

This graphic shows examples of dos and don’ts in following Estherville city code.

Every now and again, it is good to have refreshers in life. It is smart to review the rules or directions in order to be a good citizen and wonderful neighbor.

However, there is such a thing as city code violations. Most of the time the violations occur because an individual is unaware of what is required. This mostly affects new Estherville residents moving here to live, work and play. But this definitely is no excuse for residents who have lived here for years and still do not know what is expected. In other words, “ignorance is bliss” is not a good enough reason to be a rule-breaker.

“These rules are not for the majority of the people because they already follow the rules,” said Estherville Councilman John Wittneben. “The reason we have rules is for those that don’t. My hope is to help those who do deal with those who don’t as they may not be aware of whom to contact.”

Wittneben’s purpose for the reminder is to help Barb Mack, community development director, and the Estherville Police Department. Both offices deal with the code violators as they are reported.

Most common code violations include:

n Junk vehicles and machinery. A junk vehicle is one that meets any of the following criteria: is not licensed for the current year as required by law; has any broken or cracked glass; has become a habitat for animals or insects; is in defective or obsolete condition; is inoperable. (Junk vehicle complaints must be directed to the Estherville Police Department.)

n Nuisance code violations. Outside storage of junk, trash, discarded household items, abandoned, broken or neglect equipment, potentially dangerous machinery, tires, appliances, etc., is not allowed.

n Minimum housing code violations. All structures constructed for human habitation shall meet all of the following minimum requirements: connection to an approved water, sewer, electric and heat source; utility services must not be turned off for a period in excess of six months. Interior of the structure shall not be exposed to the elements causing deterioration of the building. Window and door openings shall not be boarded up. There can be no openings in the walls or roof to allow birds, animals, etc., to enter the structure.

n Solid waste violations. Failure to store trash between collections so it is not disturbed by animals or blow into neighboring yards. Failure to remove all solid waste from the property on a weekly basis by placing it in a city metered bag and setting it at the curb for collection by the solid waste crew. Placing large items or trash without metered bags at the curb without requesting a special pick up by calling city hall is another violation.

n Mowing violations. All grass must be kept trimmed to a height of less than 1o inches.

n Sign code violations. A permit must be obtained before the installation of a sign.

n Building without a permit. A building permit is required for all structures over 100 square feet, additions and alterations.

n Parking violations. Parking of vehicles, trailers or recreational vehicles is not permitted in front yards.

n Burning violations. Burning of trash is not allowed at any time. Yard waste generated on parcels consisting of at least 1.5 acres may be burned at locations at least 150 feet distance from any structure.

n Barking dogs. The city code states that it is unlawful to permit a dog to bark or howl unduly so as to disturb the quiet of the neighborhood or any person(s). The affected party must sign a complaint and has to agree to go to court to testify. The person complaining must know who the owner is and the location of the dog at the time of the offense.

n Control of animals. Animals are required to be under the control of the owner by a leash, chain or similar device when off the premises of the owner and should not be allowed to: damage or define public property or the property of another. This can include but is not limited to the failure of the owner to immediately pick up and remove deposited feces from property not owned by the animal owner. Bite or attempt to bite, attack or belligerently pursue anyone off the premises of the owner. Running at large is not allowed. If your animal accidentally gets loose and runs away, contact the police department, 362-3515 immediately with a description of your missing pet. If a complaint regarding your animals is received, officers can contact you to claim your animal and possibly avoid impoundment and/or a citation from being issued.

Residents need to know complainant information will be kept confidential to the extent allowed by law. Complaint information will be accepted in person or over the phone by calling 362-7771.