[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Lancaster 11-17-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-05. Amendments noted where applicable.]
No person shall erect, contrive, cause, continue, maintain or permit to exist any public nuisance within the City of Lancaster.
A public nuisance is a thing, act, occupation, condition or use of property which shall continue for such length of time as to:
Substantially annoy, injure or endanger the comfort, health, repose or safety of the public.
In any way render the public insecure in life or in the use of property.
Greatly offend the public morals or decency.
Unlawfully and substantially interfere with, obstruct or tend to obstruct or render dangerous for passage any street, alley, highway, navigable body of water or other public way or the use of public property.
Cause or contribute to the depreciation of real estate values due to a state of disrepair or an unattractive appearance, including but not limited to exterior portions of buildings or structures (including, but not limited to, roofs, balconies, decks, fences, stairs, stairways, walls, signs and fixtures), as well as walkways, pedestrianways, driveways, parking areas, and any detached or freestanding structure, that have become defective, unsightly or no longer viable, or are maintained in a condition of dilapidation, deterioration or disrepair to such an extent as to result in, or tend to result in, a diminution in property values.
The following acts, omissions, places, conditions and things are hereby specifically declared to be public health nuisances, but such enumeration shall not be construed to exclude other health nuisances coming within the definition of § 316-2:
Adulterated food. All decayed, harmfully adulterated or unwholesome food or drink sold or offered for sale to the public.
Unburied carcasses. Carcasses of animals, birds or fowl not intended for human consumption or foods which are not buried or otherwise disposed of in a sanitary manner within 24 hours after death.
Breeding places for vermin, etc. Accumulations of decayed animal or vegetable matter, trash, rubbish, rotting lumber, bedding, packing material, scrap metal or any material whatsoever in which flies, mosquitoes, disease-carrying insects, rats or other vermin may breed.
Stagnant water. All stagnant water in which mosquitoes, flies or other insects can multiply.
Noxious weeds. All noxious weeds and other rank growth of vegetation. All weeds and grass shall be kept cut to a height not to exceed one foot. The City may cause all weeds and grass to be cut and removed and brush to be removed and the cost thereof charged to the property under § 66.0407, Wis. Stats.
Water pollution. The pollution of any public well or cistern, stream, lake, canal or other body of water by sewage, creamery or industrial wastes or other substances.
Noxious odors, etc. Any use of property, substances or things within the City or within four miles thereof or causing any foul, offensive, noisome, nauseous, noxious or disagreeable odors, gases, effluvia or stenches extremely repulsive to the physical senses of ordinary persons which annoy, discomfort, injure or inconvenience the health of any appreciable number of persons within the City.
Street pollution. Any use of property which shall cause any nauseous or unwholesome liquid or substance to flow into or upon any street, gutter, alley, sidewalk or public place within the City.
Horse manure. The deposit of horse manure on any street or other public way.
Air pollution. The escape of smoke, soot, cinders, noxious acids, fumes, gases, fly ash of industrial dust within the City limits or within one mile therefrom in such quantities as to endanger the health of persons of ordinary sensibilities or to threaten or cause substantial injury to property.
The following acts, omissions, places, conditions and things are hereby specifically declared to be public nuisances offending public morals and decency, but such enumeration shall not be construed to exclude other nuisances offending public morals and decency coming within the definition of § 316-2:
Disorderly houses. All disorderly houses, bawdy houses, houses of ill fame, gambling houses and buildings or structures kept or resorted to for the purpose of prostitution, promiscuous sexual intercourse or gambling.
Gambling devices. All gambling devices and slot machines, except as permitted by state law.
Unlicensed sale of liquor and beer. All places where intoxicating liquor or fermented malt beverages are sold, possessed, stored, brewed, bottled, manufactured or rectified without a permit or license as provided for the ordinances of the City.
Continuous violation of City ordinances. Any place or premises within the City where City ordinances or state laws relating to public health, safety, peace, morals or welfare are openly, continuously, repeatedly and intentionally violated.
Illegal drinking. Any place or premises resorted to for the purpose of drinking intoxicating liquor or fermented malt beverages in violation of the laws of the State of Wisconsin or ordinances of the City.
The following acts, omissions, places, conditions and things are hereby declared to be public nuisances affecting peace and safety, but such enumeration shall not be construed to exclude other nuisances affecting public peace or safety coming within the definition of § 316-2:
Signs, billboards, etc. All signs and billboards, awnings and other similar structures over or near streets, sidewalks, public grounds or places frequented by the public, so situated or constructed as to endanger the public safety.
Illegal buildings. All buildings erected, repaired or altered in violation of the provisions of the ordinances of the City relating to materials and manner of construction of buildings and structures within the City.
Unauthorized traffic signs. All unauthorized signs, signals, markings or devices placed or maintained upon or in view of any public highway or railway crossing which purport to be or may be mistaken as an official traffic control device, railroad sign or signal or which, because of its color, location, brilliance or manner of operation, interferes with the effectiveness of any such device, sign or signal.
Obstruction of intersections. All trees, hedges, billboards or other obstructions which prevent persons driving vehicles on public streets, alleys or highways from obtaining a clear view of traffic when approaching an intersection or pedestrian crosswalk.
Tree limbs. All limbs of trees which project over a public street or sidewalk less than eight feet above the surface thereof.
Dangerous trees. All trees which are a menace to public safety or are the cause of substantial annoyance to the general public.
Fireworks. All use or display of fireworks except as provided by the laws of the State of Wisconsin and ordinances of the City.
Dilapidated buildings. All buildings or structures so old, dilapidated or out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human use.
Noisy animals or fowl. The keeping or harboring of any animal or fowl which, by frequent or habitual howling, yelping, barking, crowing or making of other noises shall greatly annoy or disturb a neighborhood or any considerable number of persons within the City.
Open excavations. All open and unguarded pits, wells, excavations or unused basements accessible from any public street, alley or sidewalk.
Abandoned refrigerators. All abandoned refrigerators or iceboxes from which the doors and other covers have not been removed or which are not equipped with a device for opening from the inside.
Flammable liquids. Repeated or continuous violations of the ordinances of the City or laws of the state relating to the storage of flammable liquids.
Unremoved snow. All snow and ice not removed or sprinkled with ashes, sawdust, sand or other chemical removers, as provided in this Code.
Explosives. Any blasting, discharging or exploding of explosive materials for commercial purposes or otherwise, unless a permit is first obtained therefor from the City as provided in this Code.
Barbed wire fences. All fences constructed wholly or in part of barbed wire which are located within three feet of any public street, alley or sidewalk.
Obstructions of streets; excavations. All obstructions of streets, alleys, sidewalks or crosswalks and all excavations in or under the same, except as permitted by the ordinances of the City but including those which, although made in accordance with such ordinance, are kept or maintained for an unreasonable or illegal length of time after the purpose thereof has been accomplished or which do not conform to the permit.
Unlawful assemblies. Any unauthorized or unlawful use of property abutting on a public street, alley or sidewalk or of a public street, alley of sidewalk which causes large crowds of people to gather, obstructing traffic and free use of the streets or sidewalks.
Fighting events prohibited. No person shall sponsor, sanction, condone or permit to be held or carried out on any real estate under his or her ownership or control any form of boxing, wrestling, or other type of fighting event, whether or not held in exchange for prizes or other forms of remuneration or awards and whether or not admission is charged to the public for attendance at the same unless request is made at least 90 days prior to the event and approved by a majority vote of the Common Council. This subsection shall not apply to curricular or extracurricular athletic events held or sponsored by secondary schools or universities.
Summary abatement. If the inspecting officer determines that a public nuisance exists within the City and that there is great and immediate danger to the public health, safety, peace, morals or decency, the Mayor may direct the proper officer to cause the same to be abated and charge the cost thereof to the owner, occupant or person causing, permitting or maintaining the nuisance, as the case may be.
Service of notice. Whenever the City officer per Subsection A of this section determines that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a violation of any provision of this chapter, he shall give notice of such violation to the person or persons responsible thereof. Such notice shall:
Be in writing;
Include a description of the real estate sufficient for identification;
Include a statement of the reason or reasons why it is being issued and a statement of remedial actions, which, if taken, would effect compliance with the provisions of this chapter;
State a reasonable date for the performance of any remedial actions;
Be served upon the owner, occupant or the agent, as the case may require, provided that such notice shall be deemed to be properly served upon such owner, occupant or agent, if a copy is delivered personally or by leaving a copy at the place abode with a person at least 18 years of age residing there or by mailing by certified mail a copy to the last address and the date of mailing shall be deemed the date of service.
Repairs or remedial action.
Whenever the owner, occupant or agent fails, neglects or refuses to take remedial actions or take other corrective action called for by the notice provided in this chapter, and after the latter of 10 days from service, or the date stated in the notice, the City officer per Subsection A may, after providing notice of intention and fulfilling time limits per this subsection, undertake such repairs or take the remedial action if the cost of such repairs or remedial action will not exceed 50% of the assessed value of the building or structure involved.
Right to hearing.
The owner, occupant or agent served such notice of intent per Subsection D(2) shall have the right to petition the City Plan Commission for a hearing. Such petition shall be delivered in writing to the City Office.
Within 10 days of receipt of such petition, the Mayor or his/her delegate shall set a time and place for such hearing and shall give the petitioner written notice thereof. At such hearing the petitioner shall be given an opportunity to be heard and to show cause why such notice should be modified or withdrawn. The hearing before the Plan Commission shall be commenced not later than 30 days after the date on which the petition was filed, provided that, upon written application of the petitioner to the Plan Commission, the Commission may postpone the date of the hearing for a reasonable time beyond such thirty-day period, if in its judgment the petitioner has submitted a good and sufficient reason for such postponement.
Plan Commission decision. After such hearing the Plan Commission shall sustain, modify or withdraw the notice, depending upon its finding as to whether the provisions of this chapter have been complied with. The Plan Commission may also modify any notice so as to authorize a variance from the provisions of this chapter when, because of special conditions, a literal enforcement of the provisions of this chapter will result in practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship, provided that the spirit of this chapter will be observed, safety and welfare secured, and substantial justice done. If the Commission sustains or modifies such notice, it shall be deemed an order, and the owner, operator, or agent, as the case may require, shall comply with all provisions of such order within a reasonable period of time, as determined by said Plan Commission.
Petitioner's right to appeal. The petitioner has the right to appeal the decision of the Plan Commission to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Time limits, procedures, authority to sustain, modify or withdraw the notice by the Zoning Board of Appeals is identical to that of the Plan Commission per the provisions of Subsection E of this section. The decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals is final and action on the notice as sustained or modified will be carried out by the City if not accomplished by the owner, operator or agent as the case requires in a time specified by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Court order. Except where necessary under the above, no officer hereunder shall use force to obtain access to private property to abate a public nuisance, but shall request permission to enter upon private property if such premises are occupied and, if such permission is denied, shall apply to any court having jurisdiction for an order assisting the abatement of the public nuisance.
Other methods not excluded. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as prohibiting the abatement of public nuisances by the City or its officials in accordance with the laws of the State of Wisconsin.
In addition to any other penalty imposed by this chapter for the erection, contrivance, creation, continuance or maintenance of a public nuisance, the cost of abating a public nuisance by the City shall be collected as a debt from the owner, occupant or person causing, permitting or maintaining the nuisance, such cost shall be assessed against the real estate as a special charge.
Enforcement. The Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Director of Public Works, Building Inspector, Zoning Administrator and any other officials of the City with the authority to issue citations shall enforce those provisions of this chapter that come within the jurisdiction of their offices, and they shall make periodic inspections and inspections upon complaint to ensure that such provisions are not violated. No action shall be taken under this section to abate a public nuisance unless the officer has inspected or caused to be inspected the premises where the nuisance is alleged to exist and is satisfied that a nuisance does, in fact, exist. When a hazard to public safety is determined to exist a forfeiture of $500 per day plus administrative cost of 10% per day and cost of removal shall be assessed.