Tri States Public Radio Staff
Rental Inspections, Survey, Downtown Living
Mon January 16, 2012
Fort Madison Considers Rental Inspection program
Fort Madison is moving ahead with a proposed rental inspection program. City Manager Byron Smith says the idea is to make sure apartments, duplexes and rental homes are safe.
He says inspectors could look for smoke detectors, malfunctioning doors and windows and overloaded electrical outlets, among other items.
Smith says the program would also address a key need for cities like Fort Madison.
“This is a program that a lot of communities use to help the aesthetics,” says Smith, “because, whether we like to say it or not, rental properties are about 50% of our nuisances.”
Smith says it could be several months before the rental inspection program goes before the city council as the details are still being worked out.
He says the city would hire a part-time secretary as part of the proposed program.
Smith says Fort Madison’s current budget includes about $30,000 for that hire.
CITIZEN SURVEY RESULTS
Fort Madison residents want to see more of an emphasis placed on street improvements.
The city mailed about 850 surveys to randomly-selected households last fall.
It received over 300 responses.
City Manager Byron Smith says the goal was to find out what residents think of city government and services.
He says a couple of things stood out.
“People are very dissatisfied with the condition of their residential streets,” says Smith, “and they really want the city to put some money into them.”
Smith says the city will explore borrowing money for street repairs and improvements.
More than 80% of the respondents agreed with the statements that Fort Madison is a nice place to live and that they feel safe in their own neighborhoods.
Residents were split on whether the mayor and city council are meeting expectations.
Random Survey Results
84.5% agree that Fort Madison is a nice place to live.
77.8% want a more aggressive plan for code enforcement
44.9% disagree with more investment in riverfront beautification/redevelopment
46.2% disagree with involuntary annexation
Highest priorities for the city – Street Maintenance/Repairs – 29.1% / Economic Development – 28.5%
75% of the respondents are at least 45-years old.
Fort Madison is tweaking one of its rules regarding housing.
Fort Madison Main Street asked the city about 18-months ago to change the laws regarding downtown residential use.
The city council responded by making it illegal to live on the ground floor of a building within the downtown district.
The panel has decided to change the code again.
City Manager Byron Smith says it could soon be legal to live on the ground floor as long as it is in the back half of a downtown building.
The residential area must also be ADA-accessible.
Smith says the city council must still approve the proposal two more times.
He says the change would benefit developers looking into renovating several downtown buildings for residential and commercial use.