BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The city of Fort Madison has listed 26 properties officials have deemed nuisance properties, as part of a public nuisance tax sale.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Fort Madison City Council, City Building Director Doug Krogmeier said he’s listing the properties on a Lee County Public Nuisance tax sale.
The program is designed to address abandoned nuisance structures with delinquent taxes.
The properties listed for the sale include 311 Avenue C; 416 Avenue D, 1231 Avenue E, 3700/3726 Avenue L, 2805 Avenue P, 1410 Avenue I, 3129 Avenue P, 1607 Avenue I, 721 Avenue G, 1331/1333 Avenue I, 1702 Avenue M, 3110 Avenue O, 2231 Avenue H, 833 Avenue C, 1220 23rd Street, 1515 26th Street, 2610 Avenue J, 236 Avenue E, 817 15th Street, 2 Richards Drive, 331 Avenue B, 1227 Avenue E, 3104 Avenue O, 429 Avenue D, 1035 Avenue F, and 2818 Avenue O.
Krogmeier said listing them in the public nuisance tax sale, rather than the traditional tax sale shortens the time frame on remediation from two years to about six months. The deadline to apply for a rehabilitation agreement is Monday, May 10th.
“We are processing through the county, the public nuisance sales. This will pull out this list of properties, however many I end up with developers for, from the regular tax sales and sell them just to developers interested in those properties,” Krogmeier said.
“It’s one of the other avenues we’re trying to get the houses done without forking out (the money). I’ve already got some responses on my desk for properties people want.”
Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld said the move is a huge step for Fort Madison beautification efforts.
“You made this presentation about these buildings we’re accelerating through that process and very matter of fact – this is huge,” Mohrfeld said.
“This is what we’ve been talking about for years and I can’t commend you enough. There is 10 of the target ones here that are just going to go away. This is tremendous. They are going to go into good hands. This is a huge step.”
Krogmeier said developers still need to follow through on the intentions with the properties.
“Regardless, we’re getting a change of hands, which is difficult. We’re forcing that timeline to speed up substantially.”
Krogmeier said the city has already had a handful of neighbors who have submitted interest in some of the properties. He said some on the list have seen property taxes paid up since the list was released.
Councilman Tom Schulz said this is creating opportunities in a tight housing market.
“We’re making some significant progress in the appearance of the community, mostly through voluntary compliance,” Schulz said.
“There are some issues that have to be addressed more directly, but one nice thing is that our property values are pretty decent right now. You can’t hardly buy a house in Fort Madison right now. There’s nothing on the market and that makes people look at this as an opportunity.”
Krogmeier said he wants to get through this tax sale, and then bring back up for discussion the vacant property registration ordinance. That proposed ordinance would set a fee schedule based on the square footage of any vacant properties within the city limits.
The city discussed the idea at length in 2020 and held community meetings about the proposal.
“We’re gonna look at that again, and that will help curb some properties from getting to this point,” Krogmeier said.
Councilman Kevin Rink said the community is starting to understand “clean it up or you’re in trouble.”
“The community has gotten a message,” he said.
Those interested in the properties or more information on the process can contact Krogmeier at 319-372-7700 ext 212 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.