Nuisance abatement plan should be priority at City Hall

The villages of Hampton, Marquette and Phillips have all passed nuisance abatement ordinances recently, working to clean up their towns and tackle issues related to abandoned and neglected properties. The effort is making a difference in those communities and should now be considered by Aurora city leaders as well.
The Hampton Village Board deserves credit for taking the lead on an issue many would prefer to let take care of itself. That’s the problem, however, in that properties which have for whatever reason been neglected over the years are not likely going to change, and in fact are more apt to continue deteriorating. In some cases weeds are growing out of control while in others there are more serious problems including structural decline, inoperable vehicles and/or growing piles of clutter and trash.
Passing a nuisance abatement ordinance sends a very clear, positive message to local residents. The message: We have pride in our town and ask those who live here to reflect that pride on their own properties as well.
Adopting nuisance abatement ordinances allows city and village boards to walk through a delicate legal process, utilizing a third-party enforcement agency if needed to remove the potential for personal conflicts. It is a fair process, bringing issues to the attention of property owners first to make them aware of public health and safety concerns, then outlining the steps that will be taken if nothing is done. Sending that message is sometimes all that’s needed.
While driving around Aurora recently to look at the new construction, growth and positive change unfolding, it is also becoming apparent that there are properties showing serious neglect. That can have a negative impact on neighborhoods, if not property values, and is not a good reflection of this proud community.
Another reason this approach is worth implementing is that Hampton now has a vacant lot on its Main Street after going through the process needed to remove an abandoned house. Housing lots are in short supply in Aurora, even with the new Streeter subdivisions, thus turning abandoned eyesores into buildable lots would be a positive outcome on two fronts.
This very topic was included in Aurora’s 2017 strategic planning conversations, indicating that it is becoming a priority issue. It should become a priority at City Hall as well, as this problem is not going to go away by itself.
Kurt Johnson

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