(From the City of Joplin)
More than 1,400 citizens within the extensive and catastrophic damaged areas of the May 22nd tornado have completed their Right-of-Entry (ROE) forms which allow government-funded contractors access to clear and remove the loose, tornado debris from their private property with extensive or catastrophic damage.
United States President Barack Obama authorized this Expedited Debris Removal (EDR) initiative on May 31, 2011, to support a faster community recovery. This federally funded effort will expire after August 7, 2011. Following this date, any loose, tornado-related debris removal needs on private property will be the responsibility of our community, and would be an expensive task to bear. Therefore, the loose debris removal within the EDR area must progress quickly to comply with this deadline, but also to ensure the health safety of our residents.
Effective June 22, 2011, the Director of Public Health has issued a declaration of a public health nuisance as a consequence of the EF-5 tornado on May 22, 2011. As a result of the devastating destruction from the tornado, the City has determined that rubble piles represent an immediate threat to the public’s health and safety and will be declared a nuisance. If lots still need debris removal, the property has not been cleared through the various means and an ROE form has not been received by the City.
During the June 23rd special meeting of the Joplin City Council, the Council enacted legislation outlining the process for declaring certain piles of rubble a nuisance and the procedure for how these nuisances will be abated.
The nuisance process shall work as follows:
· Notice of each identified property will be published in the local newspaper during the first of the June 27th week. This allows for the seven-day period and gives notice to the property owners of the identified lots of an upcoming public hearing to be held by the City Council.
· The City Council will hold a public hearing after this seven-day period, sometime during the first week in July. Any property owner of an identified nuisance will have the opportunity to participate in the public hearing by attending the council meeting and speaking during the public hearing.
· After the Public Hearing, if the City Council determines a nuisance exists, the Council will order the nuisance abated.
· Following this meeting, there will be an additional publication of the nuisance declarations in the local newspaper, allowing another seven-day notice period after the findings of the public hearing.
· During the second week of July (starting July 11), the property nuisance will be turned over to FEMA for the cleanup of the property by the government-funded contractors.
If a private property is cleared of loose debris through this nuisance abatement process, the property owner will be responsible for the cleanup cost and a lien against the property through a special tax assessment will be issued. The assessment will be based on the lot size as established in the following 3-tier cost structure:
Lot Size Tax Assessment
Up to 10,000 square feet $1,500.00
10,001 square feet to ½-acre $2,500.00
½-acre and greater $4,000.00
During this time, property owners may still sign an ROE form until the end of the total fourteen day notice period. If an authorized ROE form is completed and returned to the City of Joplin prior to the end of the nuisance notification period, the rules and guidelines established for the ROE process will still apply. These rules and guidelines are explained in the ABCs of Tornado Debris Removal and Part 2-ABCs of Tornado Debris Removal. Copies of these documents are available on the city’s website at www.joplinmo.org. If your property is cleared of loose debris utilizing other resources after it is identified as a nuisance by the city and prior to the abatement, please contact the Public Works Department at (417) 624-0820 ext. 539.
The abatement of any remaining nuisances throughout the entire affected area will allow the cleanup to occur within the timeframe set in the EDR initiative by the President, as well as protect our citizens from safety and health hazards and encourage the recovery of our community. This is another step to allow our citizens to rebuild in a safe and desirable manner as quickly as possible.
Additionally, we recognize that many residents have questions regarding the demolition of residential structures, in order to allow them to rebuild in Joplin. The City has requested demolition assistance from FEMA and is awaiting an answer as certain details concerning the demolition process are being determined.
However, the loose debris must be removed prior to the demolition of residential structures, so this nuisance abatement process will continue regardless of owners’ demolition needs. The City will update the citizens as further information develops about the demolition process.