The nuisance ordinance debate in Jasper County became a battle of dueling rights on Tuesday.

The nuisance ordinance debate in Jasper County became a battle of dueling rights on Tuesday.

One side claimed the proposed rural nuisance ordinance was an infringement on their property rights, telling them what they can and cannot do on their land.

The other side said not having the ordinance infringed on their property rights by allowing others to have accumulated junk and trash that harmed their property value and their ability to enjoy their land.

The debate will continue next week because the Jasper County Commissioners have called for a third public hearing on the ordinance which would impose city-style restrictions on trash and nuisances on rural property owners who are not farmers.

Leading the charge for the ordinance for the second week in a row were Evelyn and Harold Redwine, who say their neighbor's junk pile is a terrible nuisance and he has no interest in cleaning it up.

Evelyn Redwine said she's approached the Asbury city government, but they say they are powerless to make the neighbor clean it up.

The proposed county ordinance says if a nuisance is declared on someone's property, the owner would be ordered to clean it up, and if he or she refuses, the county will clean it up and tack the bill onto the owner's tax bill as a lien.

“It's not a few bricks laying around, it's not an old car sitting there, it's just trash and junk he's hauled in and our property values have just plummeted,” Redwine said. “Maybe someone couldn't come in and make him clean it up tomorrow, just the knowledge that there is an ordinance that he could possibly be made to clean his mess up, because right now no one can make him do it.”

Others in the meeting, such as Ron Hitchcock, the retired Carthage firefighter who lives east of town, said he sees this as “Big Brother, D.C. Trying to push different things on us and take some of our freedoms.”

“I just don't agree with it and I don't see that we're having a rash of problems, and I know you'll say this is a preventive measure, but I fail to see the necessity of this right now,” Hitchcock said. “I think you're making a big mistake and I think you're going to open a can of worms that I don't think you're probably ready to deal with.”

Hitchcock said he didn't think the exemptions for agriculture and farms were not fair to other property owners, even if the ordinance passed.

Jasper County Assistant Prosecutor Norman Rouse said the agriculture exemption is written into the state statute that authorized Jasper County to adopt a nuisance ordinance.

Rouse said the majority of Jasper County residents live under these restrictions already.
“What I'm saying nuisance ordinances are in affect in Joplin, in Carthage, in Webb City, Carl Junction,” Rouse said. “The majority of the people in Jasper County are under these types of nuisance ordinances because they live in the city.”

Rouse said smaller incorporated cities, such as Asbury, could vote to allow the county to enforce the ordinance within their city limits.

Those against the ordinance said they live in the county because they don't want to live under such restrictions.

Jerry Culley, rural Carthage, recounted the problems an elderly relative had with people complaining about her property after it was annexed into Carthage and placed under the city's nuisance ordinance.

“We lived on Grand Avenue growing up and it wasn't in the city then, it came into the city later,” Jerry Culley said. “We always had a horse and a couple of calves and we had an old tank out there, a bathtub with the claw feet, to give them water. My mother got a notice, that tub had been sitting there for 40 years, and she had to get rid of that. She got another notice, she said 'I guess they're going to put me in jail.' I went and moved it, but it didn't stop there. They went up behind and there was something else. It's when someone can't stand one little item being out, then they can take in after you.”