WAPELLO — Less than six months into the program and Wapello’s new rental housing inspection program is going well, inspector Mallory Smith told the council Thursday.
The program was adopted by the city council in June, using a format that was established in Columbus Junction several years ago. Smith, who is the Columbus Junction Community Development Director and also conducts the rental housing inspections in that community, was hired to conduct the inspections in Wapello.
“I’m happy to report your rental housing seems fine,” Smith told the council, explaining around 235 rental properties had been identified in the community.
Roughly half will be inspected this fall and the remainder in the spring, she said. Smith is conducting inspections on Thursdays and doing about eight per day. She has completed 40 inspections.
She said the ideal number would be about 12 inspections a day.
The most frequent problems are too few smoke detectors or no fire extinguishers. She said in those cases she normally approved the unit with a note that it was pending the installation of those items.
Some bathrooms did not have either a window or a vent.
“Generally, if there is one person living there, that isn’t going to cause a problem, so that gets put in the notes,” she told the council.
In a few cases, improvements were ordered and the landlord had 30 days to make the improvements, before a re-inspection.
“Everyone has been extremely cooperative and easy to work with,” Smith said.
Mayor Shawn Maine reminded landlords to continue their cooperation with Smith.
“If there are any landlords who think they are going to dodge this, that isn’t going to happen,” he said, explaining Smith may reschedule inspections once or twice, but eventually every rental property will receive an inspection.
“We aren’t going to drag this out forever,” Maine said.
In other action, Maine reported he was developing an aerial map that will identify possible annexation options for the city. He said two or three versions of the map may eventually be created, but with budget discussions coming up, it could be several weeks before anything was completed.
City officials have been discussing annexation possibilities, especially with construction of the proposed U.S. Highway 61 realignment expected in a few years. Council member Brett Shafer said he had also talked to Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission officials about a cost estimate for completing an update to the city’s comprehensive plan. Officials had previously said that update would be a key planning document for any annexation effort.
The council also:
• Approved the third and final readings of three ordinances that will add several state revisions to traffic regulations, alcoholic beverage control and cigarette and tobacco permits to the municipal code;
• Set a Dec. 20 public hearing to consider applying for a Community Development Block Grant to help fund a Combined Sewer Separation project;
• Approved an $11,853 quote from Schafer Construction to remodel a donated office building into the new Wapello Police Department headquarters.