BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison city officials have an early Christmas present for some property owners. It’s a big orange sticker for your abandoned vehicle.
And if you can’t move the vehicle, the city’s gonna help by coming over and towing it.
City Manager David Varley said it’s the first time in a while that the city has actually towed cars that are in violation.
“It’s a fairly substantial amount of vehicles and we’re gonna start putting placards on vehicles in the next two weeks,” Varley said.
“Maybe reading this will give them some extra time to get them moved, but if they can’t, we’ll come tow it and then they can come reclaim it or we’ll take it to the salvage yard.”
The move is intended to get vehicles the city deems abandoned off the streets and even private property if they aren’t stickered and functional, as part of ramped beautification efforts.
City Building Director Doug Krogmeier wrote in an email the city is currently processing nuisance notices, including notices for abandoned vehicles on private property.
“These can range from wrecked vehicles to vehicles that were simply parked many years ago but are no longer getting registered with the IDOT that the owner parked in their yard but has not chosen to dispose of,” he wrote Thursday.
“City staff processes vehicle nuisances and gives 30 days for the owner to abate the nuisance by removing the vehicle; making the vehicle operable, and properly registered, and titled, or store the vehicle within an enclosed building.”
He wrote if the owner has not abated the nuisance, the city can issue a municipal infraction, which is a simple misdemeanor, and abate the nuisance.
“After several years of not dealing with most of these vehicles, the numbers have grown, thus, the nuisance department, with the help of the Police Department, is going to proceed with abatement of these vehicles.”
“Within the next few weeks, the Police Department will be placing large orange tags on these vehicles and if the vehicles are not removed, or proven to the department to be operational with proper tags, the Police Department will then have the vehicles towed,” Krogmeier said.
“Owners will have the opportunity to collect the vehicle, provided fees are paid, if they have a location to store the vehicle other than in a yard perpetuating a continuation of a nuisance.”
City Code section 6-4-1 deals with nuisance abatements within the city.
Varley said it’s the first effort in years in which the city will actually be towing the vehicles. He said those could number in the hundreds.
“It will be the first time in a long time where we actually towed cars that are in violation,” Varley said. “We’ll put big orange stickers to let people know and give them plenty of notice and once that’s up we’re comin’ to get ’em.”