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PC Council hears testimony on nuisance at public hearing

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pierce City officials held a public hearing on a property in violation of the city's nuisance code ordinance, hearing testimony from Chief of Police Mike Abramovitz.

The hearing was in reference to the Lester Morris property located at 510 Newman Ave. in Pierce City. The city council has been trying to work with Morris for several months to allow him time to get the property cleaned up and in compliance with the ordinance.

Abramovitz testified that he had taken photos of the property at various times since June 21, 2011, and that little had been done in the subsequent months to correct the problems.

Tom Mann, attorney with the David Payne Law Firm in Aurora, represented Morris during the proceeding.

"Mr. Morris is hoping to apply for a salvage yard permit so he may continue to operate his business," Mann said.

"We are not going to spot zone commercial property," said Mayor Allen Stockton.

Mann argued that Morris had held a permit from the county for about 40 years to operate his business in that location.

"Even if he does make an application for a permit, he still has to be in compliance with the city code," said City Attorney Darlene Parrigon.

Abramovitz testified that he had been in attendance at several city council meetings between July, 2011 and January 2012 concerning the nuisance violations.

When asked what Morris had accomplished toward the abatement efforts, Abramovitz said, "Very little. It looks like he has moved some stuff around and maybe gotten rid of a little."

Parrigon produced several exhibits, including photos from the morning of the hearing, taken by Abramovitz, showing the continuing condition of the property periodically throughout the last several months.

Abramovitz described piles of trash and rubbish scattered over the property, along with old tires and non-working vehicles and equipment, tin, metal and dangerous buildings.

"Would you say that some of the equipment can be used for parts, as a part of Mr. Morris' business?" Mann asked.

"I wouldn't know," Abramovitz said.

Mann also questioned whether Morris' property was the only one being targeted for clean-up efforts.

"No, we're working on those, too," Abramovitz said.

Parrigon said the city had been very lenient with Morris, but "he has no intention to comply with the ordinance. His property is the least compliant with the ordinance."

Parrigon said the city could vote to proceed with the effort and give Morris seven days in which to comply with the abatement order. Failing that, the council will get bids and have the work done with the costs assessed against Morris' taxes, "up to and including a tax sale if he fails to pay those within three years."

The council tabled the matter until a closed session meeting could be held concerning the property and a decision reached.

Morris and Mann will be notified in writing of the council's decision.

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