Springfield city council member urges Missouri Senator to support nuisance property bill

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri Senate Bill 320 aims to regulate the abatement of nuisance properties. Phyllis Ferguson, Springfield Mayor Pro Tempore and zone one councilwoman, believes the bill would benefit the city. However, Sen. Eric Burlison, a Republican from Springfield, does not agree.

"It is significant because we have the most chronic nuisance problems and dangerous buildings in (zone one)," Ferguson said.

"There might be some properties that need to be addressed but the question is do we want to violate people's property rights," Burlison said.

For a property to be deemed a nuisance, the bill states written notice would have to be mailed to the property owner through the postal service or other mail carrier and require a signature.

The bill goes on to say "recoverable cost shall mean any expenditure made in an effort to induce nuisance removal or abatement to occur and shall include, but not be limited to, title report feed, mailings and postings, administrative fees, and contractor fees." Ferguson believes this could help save the city money.

"The code violations would go with property instead of the owner," Ferguson said. "Every time it changes ownership then it requires that the city starts that process again."

Burlison says the bill is too stringent.

"If you read the bill, it says they can clean up your property, then send you the bill and if you don't pay it they will put a lien against your house," Burlison said. "That is a really bold bill."

Ferguson asked people in favor of the bill to call the Senator's office.

"My goal was for him to see that this is a problem and to hear people speak to him from their own personal experiences," Ferguson said.

"I just simply had some legitimate questions," Burlison said. "I'm really surprised at the backlash."

The bill has been passed out of committee.