Chapter 50 – Nuisance Abatement Procedure


Whatever is injurious to health, indecent, or unreasonably offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property so as essentially to interfere unreasonably with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property is a nuisance.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 657.1)


The following subsections include, but do not limit, the conditions which are deemed to be nuisances in the City:

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 657.2)

  1. Offensive Smells. Erecting, continuing or using any building or other place for the exercise of any trade, employment or manufacture, which, by occasioning noxious exhalations, unreasonably offensive smells, or other annoyances, becomes injurious and dangerous to the health, comfort or property of individuals or the public.
  2. Filth or Noisome Substance. Causing or suffering any offal, filth, excrement, or noisome substance to be collected or to remain in any place to the prejudice of others, including kennels.

    (Ord. 662 – Mar. 12 Supp.)
  3. Impeding Passage of Navigable River. Obstructing or impeding without legal authority the passage of any navigable river, harbor or collection of water.
  4. Water Pollution. Corrupting or rendering unwholesome or impure the water of any river, stream or pond, or unlawfully diverting the same from its natural course or state, to the injury or prejudice of others.
  5. Blocking Public and Private Ways. Obstructing or encumbering, by fences, buildings or otherwise, the public roads, private ways, streets, alleys, commons, landing places or burying grounds.
  6. Billboards. Billboards, signboards and advertising signs, whether erected and constructed on public or private property, which so obstruct and impair the view of any portion or part of a public street, avenue, highway, boulevard or alley or of a railroad or street railway track as to render dangerous the use thereof. (See also Section 62.08)
  7. Storing of Flammable Junk. Depositing or storing of flammable junk, such as old rags, rope, cordage, rubber, bones and paper, by dealers in such articles within the fire limits of the City, unless in a building of fireproof construction. (See also Chapter 51)
  8. Air Pollution. Emission of dense smoke, noxious fumes or fly ash.
  9. Weeds, Brush. Dense growth of all weeds, vines, brush or other vegetation in the City so as to constitute a health, safety or fire hazard.
  10. Dutch Elm Disease. Trees infected with Dutch Elm Disease. (See also Chapter 151)
  11. Airport Air Space. Any object or structure hereafter erected within one thousand (1,000) feet of the limits of any municipal or regularly established airport or landing place, which may endanger or obstruct aerial navigation including take-off and landing, unless such object or structure constitutes a proper use or enjoyment of the land on which the same is located.
  12. Houses of Ill Fame. Houses of ill fame, kept for the purpose of prostitution and lewdness; gambling houses; places resorted to by persons participating in criminal gang activity prohibited by Chapter 723A of the Code of Iowa or places resorted to by persons using controlled substances, as defined in Section 124.101 of the Code of Iowa, in violation of law, or houses where drunkenness, quarreling, fighting or breaches of the peace are carried on or permitted to the disturbance of others.


The following chapters of this Code of Ordinances contain regulations prohibiting or restricting other conditions which are deemed to be nuisances:

  1. Junk and Junk Vehicles (See Chapter 51)
  2. Dangerous Buildings (See Chapter 145)
  3. Storage and Disposal of Solid Waste (See Chapter 105)
  4. Trees (See Chapter 151)


The creation or maintenance of a nuisance is prohibited, and a nuisance, public or private, may be abated in the manner provided for in this chapter or State law.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 657.3)


Whenever the Mayor or other authorized municipal officer finds that a nuisance exists, such officer shall cause to be served upon the property owner a written notice to abate the nuisance within a reasonable time after notice. †

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])


The notice to abate shall contain:

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])

  1. Description of Nuisance. A description of what constitutes the nuisance.
  2. Location of Nuisance. The location of the nuisance.
  3. Acts Necessary to Abate. A statement of the act or acts necessary to abate the nuisance.
  4. Reasonable Time. A reasonable time within which to complete the abatement.
  5. Assessment of City Costs. A statement that if the nuisance or condition is not abated as directed and no request for hearing is made within the time prescribed, the City will abate it and assess the costs against such person.


The notice may be in the form of an ordinance or sent by certified mail to the property owner.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])


Any person ordered to abate a nuisance may have a hearing with the Council as to whether a nuisance exists. A request for a hearing must be made in writing and delivered to the Clerk within the time stated in the notice, or it will be conclusively presumed that a nuisance exists and it must be abated as ordered. The hearing will be before the Council at a time and place fixed by the Council. The findings of the Council shall be conclusive and, if a nuisance is found to exist, it shall be ordered abated within a reasonable time under the circumstances.


If it is determined that an emergency exists by reason of the continuing maintenance of the nuisance or condition, the City may perform any action which may be required under this chapter without prior notice. The City shall assess the costs as provided in Section 50.11 after notice to the property owner under the applicable provisions of Sections 50.05, 50.06 and 50.07 and hearing as provided in Section 50.08.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])


If the person notified to abate a nuisance or condition neglects or fails to abate as directed, the City may perform the required action to abate, keeping an accurate account of the expense incurred. The itemized expense account shall be filed with the Clerk who shall pay such expenses on behalf of the City.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])


The Clerk shall send a statement of the total expense incurred by certified mail to the property owner who has failed to abide by the notice to abate, and if the amount shown by the statement has not been paid within one month, the Clerk shall certify the costs to the County Treasurer and such costs shall then be collected with, and in the same manner, as general property taxes.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.12[3h])


If the amount expended to abate the nuisance or condition exceeds one hundred dollars ($100.00), the City may permit the assessment to be paid in up to ten (10) annual installments, to be paid in the same manner and with the same interest rates provided for assessments against benefited property under State law.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 364.13)


Any person causing or maintaining a nuisance who shall fail or refuse to abate or remove the same within the reasonable time required and specified in the notice to abate is in violation of this Code of Ordinances.


Any property receiving multiple notices in the same year will be fined $250.00 per notice beginning with the third notice. This applies to any Abatement Notices for the following:

  1. Chapter 50 – Nuisance Abatement Procedures.
  2. Chapter 51 – Junk and Junk Vehicles
  3. Chapter 145 – Dangerous Buildings
  4. Chapter 105 – Storage and Disposal of Solid Waste
  5. Chapter 151 – Trees

(Ord. 632 – Dec. 07 Supp.)

† EDITOR’S NOTE: A suggested form of notice for the abatement of nuisances is included in the appendix of this Code of Ordinances. Caution is urged in the use of this administrative abatement procedure, particularly where cost of abatement is more than minimal or where there is doubt as to whether or not a nuisance does in fact exist. If compliance is not secured following notice and hearings, we recommend you review the situation with your attorney before proceeding with abatement and assessment of costs. Your attorney may recommend proceedings in court under Chapter 657 of the Code of Iowa rather than this procedure.