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Geneva eyes stronger code standards for city

GENEVA – City staff will look into strengthening its code enforcement on vacant, foreclosed and abandoned property, as directed by aldermen acting as the committee of the whole Monday.

The special committee of the whole meeting was to discuss various policy topics and give staff direction.

Community Development Director Dick Untch said code enforcement has a goal of seeking compliance.

When a violation is noticed, the property owner gets two notices from the city, Untch said. If he does not respond, the third notice is a summons to a hearing officer.

The hearing officer can impose a fine of up to $750 a day, at his discretion, Untch said.

If, however, the property owner contacts the city, Untch said they work out a compliance plan.

Another issue is fly dumping, where a person or company dumps garbage onto someone’s property – usually an empty lot – and sticks the property owner with the cost of cleaning up.

“Is a $25 ticket really a deterrent?” Untch asked. “An O-ticket, a non-traffic violation ticket can be issued by our police department.”

Since Settlers Hill landfill closed, it is a cheaper business decision to dump landscape waste onto an empty lot that pay a fee, he said.

Untch said the owner of a west side vacant lot was the repeated victim of other people’s fly dumps. As long as nobody know who dumped the debris, it’s the property owner who is responsible for the clean up, he said.

“A vacant lot is an attractive nuisance,” Untch said. “We could have no clue of who was out there, nobody saw anyone.”

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