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Keep it neat; it's the law

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River Falls, 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Property owners in the city of Hudson are required to keep their property well-maintained and free of trash, junk vehicles and overgrown grass. It's the law.

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The city's municipal code uses very specific language, but Hudson Chief of Police Dick Trende says the real intent of the laws governing the maintenance and care of property is to ensure that people are good neighbors.

"The truth is most of it is common sense, and the code helps reinforce what most people already know is the right thing to do. The laws reinforce what good neighbors already know."

Most may know how to take care of their property, but not everyone does it. It's Hudson compliance officer Dave Krupich's job to see that residents comply with the city's ordinances when it comes to property maintenance. In the eight years he has been doing the job, he has seen the number of violations and complaints about possible violations steadily increase. Most of the cases he follows originate with a complaint from a neighbor or city resident. In 2002 he responded to 82 complaints. That number rose to 106 in 2003, and he expects that number will be exceeded by the end of this year.

The majority of the complaints Krupich receives involve junked or unlicensed cars parked at a property, lawns and gardens not cut, or overgrown, trash and debris at a property, and equipment not properly stored. Krupich agrees with Trende that what is covered by city ordinance is mostly a matter of common sense.

"People know how to take care of their property, and the vast majority of our residents do a great job maintaining their homes and property. That's why it is a problem when somebody ignores that responsibility."

Krupich always verifies complaints with a visit to the property. If he finds a violation, a letter is sent to the property owner that spells out the problem and what needs to be done. The owner is given anywhere from seven to 30 days to deal with the issue, depending on what it is. For example, the letter calls for uncut grass to be dealt with in seven days while up to 30 days might be allowed to get rid of junked vehicles.

The letter specifies the ordinance violation and what will happen if the problem is not corrected. If no action is taken by the property owner, a final notice is sent by registered mail, which allows for an additional seven days to comply before a citation and fine are issued.

Fines range from $77 for junked or unlicensed vehicles, up to $107 for uncut lawns and other violations. The fine for a barking dog is around $50. Disputes over violations are handled in municipal court.

For more information about the municipal code as it applies to property maintenance, call Krupich at (715) 386-4270 or the Hudson Police Department at (715) 386-4771.

Meg Heaton can be reached at mheaton@rivertowns.net.

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Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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