Another city blight complaint comes inThe property, a yellow, abandoned home with overgrown trees and a deteriorating appearance, has been a problem for the city for some time.
By: By Brittany Berrens, Forum Newspapers , Lake County News Chronicle
Two Harbors City Council members received another complaint Monday about a property in the city causing headaches for neighbors.
Meghan Koss, a resident on the 800 block of Ninth Avenue, came to the council’s regular meeting to ask what could be done about a neighboring abandoned house that has become a home for raccoons.
Koss said she has tried live-trapping the raccoons, but the animals have been able to snag the bait from the trap and get away. She is concerned about the animals being around her young son and says the raccoons have approached them while walking to the school bus.
Koss and others in the neighborhood are worried about their safety.
Police were called to the property late Tuesday night with a complaint of raccoons in neighboring yards. An officer said he would try to find the Duluth owner of the abandoned house to get the home sealed off.
Koss said the home next door is to blame. The property, a yellow, abandoned home with overgrown trees and a deteriorating appearance, has been a problem for the city for some time. Despite letters sent out to improve the property, nothing has been done.
“Four years is too long,” Koss said after Mayor Randy Bolen assured her that the city would work on the problem. She said the raccoons have been a problem for the past year.
City attorney Steve Over-om told council members the city could think about pursuing civil claims against problem property owners, which would eventually allow the city to clean them up and possibly and put liens on the property.
The problem of enforcement is a bane to cities across the country and more are looking for ways to get owners into compliance. Bolen said he will look to neighboring Duluth for advice.
The city of Duluth announced this month that it will receive $88,000 from the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice, to continue its blight and nuisance project.
The money will enable the city to employ an assistant city attorney who works with property owners, tenants, and police and community members to address chronic issues.
The city launched its initiative last year with the help of a $300,000 grant. The additional award will extend the program through the end of this year.
Duluth firefighters also are involved in the blight and nuisance project, canvassing neighborhoods and identifying problem properties.
This spring, firefighters resumed the program that began last August. The owners of about 400 properties were found to have blight-related issues last year, the first year that the Duluth Fire Department Operations Division and Life Safety Division partnered to survey the city.
Issues there ranged from vacant buildings to overgrown yards. Owners were sent either informational letters or violation letters, and that alone was enough to get 50 percent to 60 percent of owners to act, Duluth Assistant Fire Chief Erik Simonson said.
The goal in Duluth is to find neglected properties before they become a problem for neighbors. In Two Harbors, many of those properties are already well known.
The Ninth Avenue home is the second to come to the council’s attention this month. The city had been going through the process to get exposed garbage cleaned up off a garage slab on Seventh Avenue in the Segog neighborhood. The garage there burned in 2009 and it collapsed over the winter.
Neighbors have complained for a year about the smell from the trash there as well as its attracting animals.
City inspector Jim Rich said earlier this month that the Segog property was in the process of heading to court so the city could possibly come in and remove the garbage. The owner there has begun removing the trash since the problem was reported in the News-Chronicle.
Bolen told council members that he would speak with Duluth Mayor Don Ness about how Two Harbors could get a grant similar to the one in Duluth to target problem properties.
Taking aim on deer
Council member Seth McDonald updated the council Monday on the status of the proposed city-wide deer hunt. After the police department and other agencies come up with a set of recommendations, McDonald said the council should have a third and final reading of the ordinance at the last meeting in July, allowing for a fall hunt.
Email the city
McDonald also talked about setting up an email form on the city’s web site. It would allow residents to voice concerns via email to the Public Affairs committee. The committee would read the emails at their meetings and bring issues forward to the council as they saw fit. McDonald had full support from the council to go forward with a plan for an input form.
Honking Tree site
The Trees and Trails committee is looking for a home for the Honking Tree memorial, a replica of the Two Harbors Light Station made from boards cut from the tree. Council member Jerry Norberg says the committee has found a promising spot near the AmericInn Lodge & Suites and the Holiday gas station on Highway 61.
“It’s almost like it was meant to be,” Norberg said, though he is still looking to get input from residents on possible memorial sites.
Batteries for electric golf carts at the Lakeview National Golf Course need to be replaced after they froze over the winter. Norberg said they were stored improperly over the winter. Around 150 batteries will have to be replaced, costing about $100 each. Norberg said insurance will cover the cost of replacement.
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