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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • City to start issuing citations over sewer inaction

  • Instead of sending out more letters, the city of Hannibal will begin issuing citations to property owners whose raw sewage is flowing into a storm water system, rather than the community’s sanitary sewer system. That decision came out of Monday’s Building Commission meeting.
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  • Instead of sending out more letters, the city of Hannibal will begin issuing citations to property owners whose raw sewage is flowing into a storm water system, rather than the community’s sanitary sewer system. That decision came out of Monday’s Building Commission meeting.
    City Manager Jeff LaGarce noted that in the city’s latest letter, property owners were given until Aug. 4, when the Building Commission met, to remedy the situation. However, as of two weeks ago, only two of 16 locations identified earlier this year as having such an illegal connection had corrected the problem.
    “I don’t want to send out a third letter. It undermines our credibility,” said the city manager.
    By issuing citations, property owners would then have to appear in court. Not only would they be subject to fines, they would also have to “explain to the judge” their lack of compliance, said LaGarce. He did add, however, that if the property owners can produce at least a signed contract with a contractor regarding having the work done, the city would be willing to “back off” from its legal efforts.
    One even harsher option to gain compliance was discussed Monday. A suggestion attributed to Joey Burnham, city building inspector, was that properties not in compliance be condemned, which would entail the turning off of utilities and thus make them uninhabitable. According to LaGarce, Burnham felt the condemnation method would be a more efficient motivator than court citations.
    Condemnation was not pursued as a course of action since some of the properties are rentals.
    “I don’t want to be throwing tenants out because of their landlord,” said LaGarce.
    Councilman Barry Louderman, who also is a member of the Building Commission, proposed staging a public meeting and inviting the property owners whose property is in violation. It was noted, however, that not much more could be explained at such a gathering than has already been detailed in letters.
    Tina Bartz, management assistant in the Public Works Department, reported having a man tell her he didn’t have the money to make the connection change. It was noted that the Board of Public Works Board approved in March a "rebate" program to homeowners or property owners of the affected residences. The cash assistance program is based on length of ownership and would total the amount paid for sewer service from these residences during the past five years.
    Some people aren’t interested in the rebate program since they don’t feel it’s their problem.
    “They think it’s the city’s responsibility,” said Louderman.
    Mayor Roy Hark said he’s already talked with one effected individual who is ready to hire an attorney.
    Page 2 of 2 - The issue arose on Feb. 11 when a complaint regarding the situation was made by a non-resident of the community, Approximately three weeks later the city and BPW received letters of inquiry from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources regarding the individual's sewer complaint. And while the DNR has apparently indicated to the city that it is satisfied with its efforts to bring the households into compliance with local, state and federal law, LaGarce told the Building Commission that something has to be done because the state “will not be backing off forever.”
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