Town reviews nuisance laws

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— Tempers flared and philosophies clashed among Oak Creek Town Board members Thursday night during a work session to review the town's nuisance ordinances -- but in the end, the group cordially agreed to consider several draft revisions.

The work session was scheduled to give Town Board members an opportunity to share their thoughts and hold a lengthier, more in-depth discussion than a regularly scheduled meeting might allow. No decisions were made, and no votes were taken during the work session.

Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman led the Town Board through Oak Creek's nine pages of nuisance ordinances, paragraph by paragraph, most of which the group left untouched.

The most intense discussion came when board members tried to analyze where one person's rights start and the next person's rights stop. The board was divided over whether property values should be included as a legitimate concern in determining the town's definition of "nuisance."

"I'm fighting for everyone's right to do what they want with their property. And I hope they won't trash their property," Trustee Mike Kien said, arguing against any mention of preserving property values within the definition of "nuisance."

"You have got to do the best that you can for the most people," Rodeman said, arguing for inclusion of a provision to protect property values from being diminished by unkempt yards or storage of multiple unlicensed vehicles.

Board members ultimately agreed to use Westminister's nuisance ordinance as a jumping-off point for addressing property values. Westminister's ordinance states: "The premises are so defective, unsightly or in such condition of disrepair that they substantially diminish the value of the surrounding property or are otherwise substantially detrimental to surrounding properties."

To resolve an ongoing debate over storage of unlicensed vehicles, the Town Board referred to suggestions from Oak Creek Code Enforcement Officer Linda Koile. After a heated discussion and several amendments to Koile's suggestions, trustees agreed that "not more than one unlicensed vehicle owned by the owner or occupant of the property may be stored."

Trustees also expressed strong feelings regarding whether to require that nuisance complaints be signed by the person complaining. No consensus was reached on the issue.

The only ordinance the Town Board quickly and unanimously decided to remove was one that prohibited "noisemaking devices to attract children."

"'Cuz we want an ice cream truck," Rodeman said.

All of Thursday night's suggested changes are up for discussion and would require a vote at a regular Town Board meeting to alter Oak Creek's existing nuisance ordinance.

"I think we're a long ways from finalizing anything. This is a draft," Town Clerk Nancy Crawford said at the end of the work session.

-- To reach Jennie Lay call 871-4210

or email jlay@steamboatpilot.com.

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