Over the past several years the City of Baker has received numerous complaints about the visual decay that is present throughout the city.
Submitted by Baker Police Chief Reddick
Unfortunately, the majority of the complaints revolve around the visual condition of private properties. Whether it be junk vehicles, accumulation of personal possessions, condition or decaying appearance of houses and buildings, or simply junk, it has been a concern.
On several occasions, the City Council meetings have been attended by citizens voicing their concerns to such conditions. In the past, the City of Baker has addressed these concerns by writing letters to residents asking for compliance to the Public Nuisance Ordinance. However, this has been fairly ineffective in attaining results.
As of November 2014, a new City Ordinance has been adopted that is consistent with the State of Montana Code regarding Public Nuisance. The new city ordinance is very descriptive in nature and is deemed a criminal misdemeanor with fines ranging from $150.00 to $500.00 and/or jail time.
In addition, matters of such will now be handled by the Baker Police Department through the criminal citation process. The Baker Police Department has recently contacted many residents based on violations of Public Nuisance. As a result, many have been cooperative in correcting the violation. However, some have failed to comply with either the State law or City Ordinance and criminal citations have been issued.
It is the goal of the City of Baker to promote an aesthetically pleasing community that is enjoyed by all and one that we can all be proud of. According to Chief Reddick, the Baker Police Department will make contact with residents throughout the city who are in violations of the ordinance as well as state law.
A brief summary of the ordinance is as follows.
“Junk Vehicle” – A motor vehicle that is inoperative, unable to be driven, unregistered, unlicensed, abandoned, wrecked, or dismantled/disassembled by displaying the absence of parts deemed essential to the operation of the vehicle.
“Junk” – Old appliances, equipment, or thereof, old iron or other scrap metal, automobile or truck tires, cardboard, old lumber or scrap wood, rags, rope, paper, debris, rubble, batteries, rubber debris, containers, mattresses, or any worn out, cast off, or discarded article or material, which by its very display offers a visual blight with no positive social value.
“Component Part” – Any identifiable part of a discarded, ruined, wrecked, or dismantled motor vehicle, including, but not limited to, fenders, doors, hoods, engine blocks, motor parts, transmissions, frames, axles, wheels, tires, and passenger compartment fixtures.
“Public View” – Any point six feet above the surface of the center of any public road from which the community decay/public nuisance can be seen.
“Community Decay” – A public nuisance created by allowing rubble, debris, junk, junk vehicles, or refuse to accumulate resulting in conditions that are injurious to health, indecent, offensive to the senses or obstructive of the free use of property so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property.
a. “Public Nuisance” means:
1. A condition which endangers safety or health, is offensive to the senses, or obstructs the free use of property so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property by an entire community or neighborhood or by any considerable number of persons, including but not limited to the following:
The enumeration, below, shall not be deemed exclusive, but merely illustrative, it being the intent and purpose of this subsection to include as nuisances, all actions or things of the character described in Subsection(a)(1), above.
A. Accumulating, maintaining or storing in public view on any lot or other parcel of land, any abandoned, discarded, or unused furniture, household appliances, fixtures or equipment, or junk. In addition, the whole of any property accumulation within view of the public that can be reasonably deemed to constitute a visual blight reducing the aesthetic appearance. If such material is being accumulated as part of an ongoing, active salvage business other than an approved licensed motor vehicle wrecking facility, the salvage business must be located in a properly zoned area for such a business and shall be fully shielded from public view;
B. Accumulating, maintaining or storing in public view on any lot or other parcel of land any junk vehicle, or any abandoned, wrecked, dismantled, or inoperative trailers, campers, boats, or other watercraft as well as component parts. Any person possessing one or more junk vehicles regardless of ownership, shall shield the vehicles from public view or remove the vehicles;
C. Dumping, piling, or stacking of bricks, concrete blocks, wood, and similar material on any lot or other parcel of land, unless said material is tacked in neat piles and all waste materials are removed;
D. Accumulating, maintaining or storing of a significant amount of cardboard boxes, broken packing boxes, paper, or other similar items on any lot or other parcel of land;
E. Piling or depositing of any dirt, demolition wastes including wood, bricks, concrete, used road blacktop, and other similar materials on any lot or other parcel of land, unless such material is to be utilized for fill material to fill a land depression, and provided that, if such material is used as fill material it be utilized within 90 days;
F. Maintaining or accumulating on any lot or other parcel of land, garbage, refuse, decaying vegetation, tree branches or tree parts, unearthed shrubbery, animal waste or feces, or any other condition which is or may reasonably become infested or inhabited by rodents, reptiles, vermin, or wild animals or may furnish a breeding place for mosquitoes or flies;
G. Maintaining or causing or permitting the same on any lot or other parcel of land, any building or structures (residential or non-residential), fences, gates, driveways, or other premises which are determined to be dangerous, dilapidated, or in such a condition of deterioration or disrepair that the same constitutes visual blight or reduces the aesthetic appearance of the neighborhood or is offensive to the senses or is detrimental to nearby properties. In addition, any building on which the condition of existing paint has become so deteriorated as to permit substantial cracking or decay on 50 percent of the building or a building having broken or missing windows or doors which have remained in such condition for 60 days;
H. Maintaining or permitting within the city any uncontrolled plant growth of any nature which obstructs the view of motorists, creates a fire hazard, or provides cover for wild animals or reptiles, or uncontrolled weed growth. For the purpose of this chapter, “weed” means any plant which ordinarily grows without cultivation and is not grown for the purpose of landscaping or food cultivation, except lawns or grass shall be included in the term “weeds” for the purpose of height control as set out in this chapter. It is the duty of every owner/renter/or controller of real property to cut, destroy, or remove or cause to be cut, destroyed, or removed all weeds in excess of eight inches in height growing thereon and upon any one-half of any street or alley abutting this property to a height of four inches or less.
For any questions, please contact the Baker Police Department at 406-778-2151.