Prairie Twp. beefs up staff for nuisance cases

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By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

The Prairie Township trustees unanimously approved the hiring of a seasonal zoning employee to keep up with the influx of nuisance cases.

The employee will be paid $13.50 an hour and work 20 hours a week.

“When the weather gets warm, the nuisance cases jump from three every two weeks to 30 every two weeks,” said Tracy Hatmaker, township administrator. “Our zoning department, who handles these cases, needs a little help so they can keep these under control and handle their regular day-to-day tasks.”

The seasonal employee will be responsible for the clerical tasks related to abating a nuisance property. These tasks include notifying a homeowner of the nuisance issue, taking photos of the nuisance, sending certified letters to the homeowner and paperwork related to abating the issue.

“The road department will still abate the nuisance, but this person will be helping with the clerical process,” Hatmaker said. “There is so much that goes into this process, this person will help our departments so it doesn’t completely take over their lives.”

In 2014, the township received 282 complaints about nuisance properties and 127 were actually declared nuisances. Out of that 127 declared, 62 properties were abated, the remaining properties were rectified by the homeowner.

“Ever since the financial crisis we have had a huge number of nuisance properties,” Hatmaker said. “We have a lot of vacant properties in the township that are bank owned.”

Last year, Prairie Township spent over $28,000 on abatements and plans to spend the same amount or more this year. However, according to Hatmaker, the township assesses these costs on the property owner’s taxes and collects the money at the end of the year.

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