Friday, June 17, 2011

Southeast Missouri is a beautiful place to live.

We have rolling hills, fertile fields, rivers and streams. Our towns, at least most of them, are quaint. We have nice schools and courthouses and clean parks. The good majority of people who live and work in Southeast Missouri understand and appreciate the aesthetics of our towns and rural areas. But there are some, unfortunately, who do not.

Some don't care to let buildings fall to ruin, to allow weeds to overcome lots and showcase their trash for everyone to see. Caring for one's property for beautification sake is one thing; keeping minimum standards for people to live is even more important. Just as tenants have responsibilities to landlords, so, too, do landlords have an obligation to their tenants.

Scott City is weighing the options on how to handle property nuisances and inspections. Since June 2010, the city has sent two dozen notices to building owners for not complying with the city's ordinances. All but one owner has complied.

Sometimes renters live in unsafe conditions. Scott City is looking into doing inspections before renters can occupy a building. Cape Girardeau is working on a rental inspection program that would require landlords to pay for annual licenses, which would subject a landlord's property to routine inspections.

In his monthly column in the Southeast Missourian, Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger wrote about the city being on a heightened mission to identify "any and all nuisance properties and enforce our current ordinances." In the column, he gave some sound advice.

"First, to all property owners: Assess your property and determine if it meets and/or exceeds your standards and your neighbor's standards," he wrote. "If you determine that it does not, make plans for improvement."

First and foremost, it's important for people to be safe; the city has an obligation to enforce laws for public safety. Secondly, it's important to be good custodians of our property and our neighborhoods. Most of what's being discussed is fairly common sense.

What tack the city should take in controlling some of these issues is debatable.

What's not debatable is that we all have a role to play in keeping our towns and our properties attractive. Some properties can't be improved without major investments, and we understand economic challenges. But there's so much that can be done with just a little bit of elbow grease and a few cans of paint.

Let's get to it, shall we?

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