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House declared public nuisance; city to hire contractor to clean up

Ponca City Now - June 25, 2019 10:48 am

A photo of the property from April 2, 2019.

City Commissioners voted Monday night against a resident’s appeal of an administrative hearing officer’s declaration of a public nuisance.

The case involves a home in the 700 block of West Otoe, which has been at the center of an investigative procedure since 2017. The resident has been cited numerous times in Municipal Court for criminal offenses including code violations, the keeping of animals and trespassing.

In rejecting the resident’s appeal of the determination, commissioners decided the city will hire a contractor to clean the property. This work will be paid for by funds budgeted each year for the removal of nuisances and a lien will be placed on the property for the cost of cleanup.

The property includes an older home and detached garage which city inspectors have said are in a dilapidated condition and contain significant amounts of trash and debris inside. Inspectors say trash and debris covers a portion of  the porch, side yard and rear yard to an average height of three feet.

City code enforcement officers who have inspected the property have reported a “pungent odor associated with the accumulation that can be detected from the street.”

Until recently, the resident has lived in the home alone, but was removed by Adult Protective Services because the inside of the home was deemed  to be unfit for habitation.

Complaints about the property have dated back to 2017. The resident received a citation on Nov. 30, 2017, from a previous property inspector.

In March 2019, Development Services staff members initiated an administrative process against the property, as allowed by state statutes. This process is what allowed commissioners to declare  the property a public nuisance and hire a contractor to clean the property with funds set aside for nuisance abatement. A lien will be placed on the property for the cost of cleanup. 

The administrative hearing was held on May 29, 2019. The resident did not attend, but submitted a written appeal within 10 days of  the hearing. The matter then was scheduled for the City Commission meeting held Monday night.

The case was complicated because the owner of record died in 2007, and the resident told an inspector she was a squatter in the house and had lived  there long enough to have squatter rights. Her name is on the deed at the County Courthouse, along with the original owner’s name.

Conditions in the house were so severe on May 15, 2019, the city inspector had utilities to the house shut off. Adult Protective Services agreed there were life safety issues and the home was unsafe for the resident. A “uninhabitable” sign was posted on the front door and a hearing date was set for May 29.

Two photos from April 2019 showing conditions of the property. Inspectors said conditions remain substantially the same now.

 

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