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  • Last modified 22 days ago (Feb. 4, 2021)

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Mandated cleanup leaves owner unhappy

Staff writer

Kevin and Janet Geren, whose property at 702 S. Cedar was cleaned up two weeks ago by the city of Marion under supervision by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, is not happy with what was done and the condition the property is now in.

“They didn’t do nothing but take my fence and take my property,” Kevin Geren said.

The yard has holes in the ground where fence posts were removed. A row of metal fence posts was left standing along the east side of the yard.

A stack of telephone poles that had been in the back yard was removed, but Geren said he’d planned to use those poles for a future project.

The dispute that led to the cleanup has been ongoing for more than a year.

City officials earlier declared it a nuisance property and ordered Kevin Geren to remove sheds and makeshift fencing around the yard. The city also ordered removal of cars on the property.

Kevin Geren said he worked hard to remove items the city ordered him to, but his efforts didn’t keep the city and state from taking matters into their own hands two weeks ago.

Geren said he first became aware of a problem when he returned home from church on a Sunday and found Marty Fredrickson, then city code inspector, taking measurements of a fence on the east side of the property.

Geren said he went to see what was going on and Fredrickson told him, “You’re right on the money.”

About two weeks later, Geren said, he had to appear in municipal court, where he was told to remove the wood- and metal fence around his property.

High weeds and appliances on the property also had to be removed, he was told.

According to Geren, the city changed his property easement several times during the yearlong dispute. He was told a metal carport outside the privacy fence had to be removed because it was on a neighbor’s property.

Geren also said the city changed its story several times.

Geren said he asked in court what exactly he needed to remove and was yelled at by city attorney Susan Robson.

“I want everything!” Geren said Robson yelled. “Get it out!”

Toby Kuhn, an inspector with KDHE’s Bureau of Waste Management, also was involved with Gerens’ property.

According to Geren, Kuhn told him that as long as he was working on the matter, the city could not tell the Gerens what to do.

“The next day the city said to remove the cars or they would pick them up,” Geren said.

Geren said when he attended a city meeting with his property on the agenda, he was not allowed to speak to council members who made the decision to clean up the property with KDHE.

“I didn’t even get to talk,” Geren said. “Dave Mayfield said, ‘We’ve already made our decision.’ ”

Linda Geren also said she was disappointed.

“They didn’t clean it up, and they were supposed to clean it up,” she said, pointing to the holes in the ground.

Linda Geren said it’s her understanding KDHE will collect a portion of the costs from the Gerens.

In the city’s agreement with KDHE, the state agency agreed to pay 75% of the cost.

City administrator Roger Holter said the city sent KDHE an invoice for $3,874 as the cost of the abatement.

Last modified Feb. 4, 2021

 

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