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Independence leaders say abatement issues have significantly increased

Posted at 10:15 PM, Jan 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-23 23:24:04-05

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Independence Code Enforcement Department says it's fighting an increase of trash, weeds, open storage and cars that just don’t work anymore.

Eight code enforcement officers cover a city with a population of 123,000 people.

There is due process when it comes to code enforcement issues including multiple notifications, time extensions and sometimes issuing tickets.

Hollie Allerson, neighborhood services supervisor for Independence, says code enforcement is a top citizen concern year after year.

“Many people want safe and healthy neighborhoods,” Allerson said.

Allerson said when it comes to abatement issues in Independence, the department has seen an increase of 120%.

“I keep those blinds closed most of the time,” said Teresa Theel, an Independence homeowner.

Theel says for much of the last decade, she’s lived near a problem property. Recently, she says it was cleaned up by the city.

“That really restores my faith in the city,” Theel said. “He said, ‘Your property value just went up $30,000.' And that’s God’s truth — cause that’s how much it affects.”

Each year, the city of Independence takes thousands and thousands of complaints. In 2022, the department found 8,000 violations.

Allerson oversees them all.

“You really do feel like you’re doing something that makes your community better,” she said. “I live in Independence, so it’s really important to me.”

Allerson said 50% of people will comply and fix the issue when notified.

“Trash is definitely the biggest issue we come across,” she said. “We will work with you if you need some more time.”

In 2022, the department ordered 600 abatements.

The city says if someone were to see a ticket related to an abatement issue, it could cost on average $390.

“We’re seeing 51 abatements per acre in this community,” said Zach Walker, Independence city manager. “Picture each acre in this city will be 51 different instances of tall grass, weed or illegal dumping.”

Theel says she’s ready to see continued city accountability in 2023.

“That makes me feel good as a taxpayer,” Theel said