Storm Lake attorney Dan Connell showed up at the Alta City Council meeting Monday representing resident Jim Grienke who was cited with a nuisance order from the city. There has been concern from city representatives for some time that the outside of Grienke's residence contains too much "stuff." Despite contacting him time and time again, and seeing that some progress has been made, the city representatives have not seen enough of a change to satisfy them.
"I believe substantial progress has been made," Connell said, "and I've seen a great deal of improvement made. The question is this, what is now the existing problem? I looked up in the Iowa code what a nuisance is. You need to tell us what the nuisance is. I'll do anything I can to get it fixed."
The discussion went on for some time.
The council's aim is to clean up Alta. Letters have been sent out to many others in the community to clean up their yards, as well.
"I know what the problem has been but I think Jim has taken more action than anyone in your community."
Allegedly, Grienke approached the council last December and asked if he could put up a building to put all of his "treasures" in. The council agreed, telling him the mess needed to be cleaned up by June 1.
"I don't know anyone sitting in this room that would want to live by that property," commented Mayor Courtney Lytle. "The backyard is a nuisance."
Connell cited that no neighbors were present. "If they do have a problem, why don't they file a complaint? Why are you on a witch hunt with Jim Grienke?"
Mayor Lytle responded, "I'm not on a witch hunt. I just want to clean up Alta."
It was stated that over the years, council members and even the members of the fire department which Grienke was a part of for many years, volunteered to help him and no response was heard from Grienke.
Connell pointed out that Grienke is a "good ol' guy and there's nothing wrong with him wanting to take care of his own treasures by himself.
"We have seen progress," said council member Mike Holton. "I realize it takes time but we've given him a lot of time."
It was explained that the deadline of June 1 that Grienke had allegedly agreed to has come and gone. And with winter coming, the council wonders how much can possibly get completed.
"Are we going to wait another year?" said Mayor Lytle.
Holton added, "He needs to get it cleaned up or get someone else to do it. We've bent over backwards to do everything we could to help him. That's my opinion. We've sent out other abatement letters. We're not just picking on him."
The council members agreed that the matter could not go on any longer. "We need to follow our codes," said council member Molly Elston.
Between Connell and the council, it was agreed that Grienke should remove these items from his yard and either dispose of them or put them in the shed that was constructed on his property - a stack of tires (that Grienke now has covered with tarps and salvage materials.
The council would also like to see these items removed - an old bus that once served as the athletic booster club's concession stand and an the old metal building that is not being used.
Mayor Lytle concluded by saying in a lighthearted manner to Connell, "We don't want to see you back here and we don't want to discuss this for an hour with you again in the spring."
In addition to this matter, the council heard from Richard "Curly" Morris, code enforcer. He told the board that three permits were approved for a total of $17,700 for the month of November.
Inspections on rental properties will begin soon. He informed the board that he sent out 36 letters to property owners. The letters stated that the inspections would be made at "random" and that it would be the owners to let the renters know of the inspections. The inspections will be conducted beginning after Jan. 3 in an attempt to provide better housing for those that rent properties in Alta.
Morris also gave the council information on several changes the Planning and Zoning commission would like to see made. The information will go back to the P & Z and ordinances will be drawn up for those items that the council agreed with. Morris will be taking several items back to the commission to reword. These items will be brought back to the council.