Marion Aims to Keep List of Meth Lab Locations & Strengthen Cleanup Policies
By Jill Kasparie, Reporter
MARION, Iowa - Marion city leaders say they're paving the way to safety with a new ordinance toughening up city rules for meth labs cleanups.
Many states around Iowa have either meth lab disclosure laws or meth lab cleaning regulations.
Minnesota has both, but Iowa and Wisconsin have neither. Authorities in Marion say they're not going to wait for the state to take action.
They're working on an ordinance that makes the whereabouts of meth labs public knowledge. It'll also regulate the cleanup process.
Tuesday night the Marion City Council discussed it during a work session, and they're slated to take it up again on Thursday.
This all started when Marion Police faced a situation they couldn't control when a family was moving into an apartment that once housed a meth lab. Meth residue is known to make people very sick.
“It was pretty bad,” said Marion Police Chief Harry Daugherty. “When they walked in they could smell it and the people in the other apartments could smell it too, so we thought we need to do something because there was no standard at that point.”
Suzy Mitchell lives just down the way from an apartment where a meth lab was found earlier this year. The idea of some new city rules to keep her informed makes her feel better.
"I think it's a good idea ... especially if you have kids and you're moving in with kids,” Mitchell said.
The ordinance requires the police department to keep a list of buildings and cars that were formerly meth lab sites. They'll be on that list for three years.
"We want to make sure that whoever buys the property next or whoever moves into the property has a place to call to check to see if there ever has been one there,” said Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn.
It also allows police to prevent anyone from moving into a building until the apartment manager or owner passes cleaning standards laid out by the city.
"They are going to have to get a certified hygienist to come in, an industrial hygienist to come in, to meet the requirements and once that happens then somebody can move back into it or they can rent that building out again or room out again,” said Chief Daugherty.
The Cedar Rapids Area Association of Realtors is just finding out about the proposed ordinance. They have some questions.
In an email, Association Executive Kevin Platz said "When a lab is discovered in a unit, has the council discussed the possibility that the property value of that unit as well as surrounding units may decrease? What affect will this have on neighborhoods?"
As for Suzy, she just wants what's best for her four children.
"I'd do anything for them,” Mitchell said.
The Marion City Council will have a final vote on the meth ordinance on Thursday. If it passes, it would go into effect shortly after.
Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque and Iowa City do not have laws on the books like this, but city representatives said it was something to consider.
Check out this list of known contaminated properties in the state of Iowa: http://www.justice.gov/dea/clan-lab/ia.pdf
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