The Belmond City Council took steps Monday night to speed up the process to deal with nuisance properties. Officials want to shorten the delay between identifying a problem and solving it -- from 20 days (plus court time) to seven days (and no court time).

  “The current system takes too long,” said City Manager Darrel Steven Carlyle. “Grass that isn’t mowed can grow a lot in three weeks. The city wants to be able to give a property owner a notice of violation along with a seven day window to take care of the problem. After that, the city will get the job done at a rate of $80 per hour.”

  The council passed the first of three required votes on the issue.

  In a related matter, Police Chief Rick McDaniel said he was finally able to get a legal notice served on the owner of the old Parker school property. The grass is several feet tall, and windows and doors have been broken out. “We had a hard time finding him,” said McDaniel.

  The owner of the property, Michael Featherston, no longer lives in Mason City. He was finally located in Rockford, and a legal notice was served on him June 11 by the Floyd County Sheriff. Featherston has until June 21 to mow, clean up the property, and seal the open doors and windows. Otherwise, the city will do the work and bill the property owner.

  City leaders also moved forward on a rule change that would prohibit the parking of vehicles on the grass in the front yard of a home (including the side yard of a corner house). Vehicles must be “parked on an improved driveway or parking pad”. The only exception would be during a snow emergency.

  “This is something we’ve heard about repeatedly from citizens,” said City Manager Carlyle. “And quite honestly, I was surprised when I learned Belmond didn’t have such an ordinance. Every place I’ve ever served has such a rule.”

  Belmond already has an ordinance that prohibits the parking of a camper or boat in a front yard.

  The council passed the first of three required votes on the issue.

  In other business, the council:  read the entire story in the Belmond Independent.