South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Property Owners Must Have Opportunity to Challenge Decisions to Remove Nuisances
Description

Iowa high court held that it violated due process for a city ordinance to allow city officials to decide when vehicles where junk and would be taken with no opportunity for the property owners to contest the decision.

Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words

Due Process; Nuisance Abatement

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Kistler owns three properties in Perry, Iowa. The city objected to the number of junk vehicles sitting on the property and sent Kistler a notice to remove the vehicles within 14 days. He did not, so the city seized the vehicles as in violation of the nuisance abatement ordinance. Kistler sued, contending the city did not give him an opportunity to challenge the claim that the vehicles were junk and a nuisance. The district court upheld the city's action. Kistler appealed.

Decision

Reversed and remanded. The nuisance abatement ordinance allowing a compliance officer to determine the existence of a nuisance and to take action to abate the nuisance without opportunity for a hearing violates due process. While cities may act against junk vehicles, property owners must be given notice of the decision and the opportunity to challenge the determination before action is taken.

Citation

Kistler v. City of Perry, ---N.W.2d--- (2006 WL 2325216, Sup. Ct., Iowa, 2006)

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