City of Watertown, WI
Dodge / Jefferson County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Watertown as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Animal nuisances — See Ch. 228.
Housing standards violations — See Ch. 332.
Peace and good order — See Ch. 410.
Abandoned and junked vehicles — See Ch. 497.
[Adopted as §§ 12.01 to 12.04 and 12.06 of the former City Code]
No person shall erect, contrive, cause, continue, maintain or permit to exist any public nuisance within the City of Watertown.
A public nuisance is a thing, act or occupation, condition or use of property which shall continue for such length of time as to:
A. 
Substantially annoy, injure or endanger the comfort, health, repose or safety of the public;
B. 
Render the public insecure in life or in the use of property;
C. 
Greatly offend the public morals or decency;
D. 
Unlawfully and substantially interfere with, obstruct or tend to obstruct or render dangerous for passage any street, alley, highway, navigable body of water or other public way or the use of public property.
The following acts, omissions, places, conditions and things are hereby specifically declared to be public health nuisances, but such enumeration shall not be construed to exclude other health nuisances coming within the definition of § 390-1 of this article:
A. 
All decayed, harmfully adulterated or unwholesome food or drink sold or offered for sale to the public.
B. 
Carcasses of animals, birds or fowl not intended for human consumption or food, which are not buried or otherwise disposed of in a sanitary manner within 24 hours after death in the months of April to November or 48 hours after death during the months of December to March.
C. 
Accumulations of decayed animal or vegetable matter, trash, rubbish, rotting lumber, bedding, packing material, scrap metal or any material whatsoever in which flies, mosquitoes, disease-carrying insects, rats or other vermin may breed.
D. 
All stagnant water in which mosquitoes, flies or other insects can multiply.
E. 
Any substance, activity or condition sufficient to create a human health hazard as that term is defined in § 254.01(2), Wis. Stats.
F. 
Any chemical and/or biological material that is stored, used or disposed of in such quantity or manner that is, or has the potential to create, a human health hazard.
G. 
The addition of any chemical and/or biological substance that would cause groundwater to be unpalatable or unfit for human consumption. The substances include but are not limited to the chemical and/or biological substances listed in Ch. NR 809, Wis. Adm. Code, titled "Safe Drinking Water."
H. 
Any private well that is constructed, abandoned or used in noncompliance with Ch. NR 812, Wis. Adm. Code, or any pump installed in noncompliance with Ch. NR 812, Wis. Adm. Code.
I. 
The pollution of any public well, stream, lake, canal or other body of water by sewage, noxious acids, or industrial wastes or other substances.
J. 
Any use of property, substances or things within the City emitting or causing any foul, offensive, noisome, nauseous, noxious or disagreeable odors, gases, effluvia or stenches extremely repulsive to the physical senses of ordinary persons, which annoy, discomfort, injure or inconvenience the health of any appreciable number of persons within the City.
K. 
Any hole or opening caused by an improperly abandoned cistern, septic tank, dug well or any improperly abandoned, barricaded or covered up excavation not securely covered or secured from public use.
L. 
Any use of property which shall cause any nauseous or unwholesome liquid or substance to flow into or upon any street, gutter, alley, sidewalk or public place within the City.
[Amended by Ord. No. 06-07]
The following acts, omissions, places, conditions and things are hereby specifically declared to be public nuisances offending public morals and decency, but such enumeration shall not be construed to exclude other nuisances offending public morals and decency coming within the definition of § 390-1 of this article:
A. 
All disorderly houses, bawdy houses, houses of ill fame, gambling houses and buildings or structures kept or resorted to for the purpose of prostitution, promiscuous sexual intercourse, or gambling.
B. 
All gambling devices and slot machines.
C. 
All places where intoxicating liquor or fermented malt beverages are sold, possessed, stored, brewed, bottled, manufactured or rectified without a permit or license as provided for by the ordinances of the City.
D. 
Any place or premises within the City where City ordinances or state laws relating to public health, safety, peace, morals or welfare are openly, continuously, repeatedly and intentionally violated.
E. 
Any place or premises resorted to for the purpose of drinking intoxicating liquor or fermented malt beverages in violation of the laws of the State of Wisconsin or ordinances of the City.
The following acts, omissions, places, conditions and things are hereby declared to be public nuisances affecting peace and safety, but such enumeration shall not be construed to exclude other nuisances affecting public peace or safety coming within the provisions of § 390-1 of this article:
A. 
All signs and billboards, awnings and other similar structures over or near streets, sidewalks, public grounds or places frequented by the public so situated or constructed as to endanger the public safety.
B. 
All buildings erected, repaired or altered within the fire limits of the City in violation of the provisions of the ordinances of the City relating to materials and manner of construction of buildings and structures within said district.
C. 
All unauthorized signs, signals, markings or devices placed or maintained upon or in view of any public highway or railway crossing which purport to be or may be mistaken as an official traffic control device, railroad sign or signal or which because of color, location, brilliance or manner of operation interfere with the effectiveness of any such device, sign or signal.
D. 
All trees, hedges, billboards or other obstructions which prevent persons driving vehicles on public streets, alleys or highways from obtaining a clear view of traffic when approaching an intersection or pedestrian crosswalk.
E. 
All limbs of trees which project over public sidewalks and are less than eight feet above the surface of a public sidewalk, or which project over public roadways and are less than 12 feet above the public roadway.
[Amended by Ord. No. 06-29]
F. 
All use or display of fireworks except as provided by the laws of the State of Wisconsin and ordinances of the City.
G. 
All buildings or structures so old, dilapidated or out-of-repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human use.
H. 
All abandoned and wrecked or dilapidated motor vehicles, buses, railroad cars and house trailers.
I. 
All wires over streets, alleys or public grounds which are strung less than 15 feet above the surface thereof.
J. 
All loud, discordant and unnecessary noises or vibrations of any kind.
K. 
The keeping or harboring of any animal or fowl which by frequent or habitual howling, yelping, barking, crowing or making of other noises shall greatly annoy or disturb a neighborhood or any considerable number of persons within the City.
L. 
All obstructions of streets, alleys, sidewalks or crosswalks and all excavations in or under the same, except as permitted by ordinances of the City or which, although made in accordance with such ordinances, are kept or maintained for an unreasonable or illegal length of time after the purpose thereof has been accomplished.
M. 
All open and unguarded pits, wells, excavations or unused basements freely accessible from any public street, alley or sidewalk.
N. 
All fences, walls or barricades erected and maintained on residential property which are designed to cause bodily injury, including but not limited to barbed wire fences, electrified fences, razor fences, and broken glass walls.
[Added by Ord. No. 97-40]
A. 
Declared a public nuisance. The Common Council having determined that the health of the elm trees within the City is threatened by a fatal disease known as Dutch elm disease hereby declares the following to be public nuisances:
(1) 
Any living or standing elm tree or part thereof infected with the Dutch elm disease fungus or which harbors any of the elm bark beetles.
(2) 
Any dead elm tree or part thereof, including logs, branches, stumps, firewood or other elm material from which the bark has not been removed and burned or sprayed with an effective elm bark beetle-destroying insecticide.
B. 
Nuisances prohibited. No person shall permit any public nuisance as defined in Subsection A to remain on any premises owned or controlled by him within the City.
C. 
Inspection. The City Forester shall inspect or cause to be inspected all premises and places within the City at least twice each year to determine whether any public nuisance as defined in Subsection A exists thereon and shall also inspect or cause to be inspected any elm tree reported or suspected to be infected with the Dutch elm disease or elm bark bearing material infested with the elm bark beetle.
D. 
Abatement.
(1) 
If the City Forester, upon inspection and examination, shall determine that any public nuisance as herein defined exists in or upon any public street, alley, boulevard, parkway, park or other public place, including the terrace strip between curb and sidewalk, within the City and that the danger to other trees within the City is imminent, he shall immediately cause it to be removed and burned or otherwise abate the same in such manner as to prevent as fully as possible the spread of Dutch elm disease or the insect pests or vectors known to carry such disease fungus.
(2) 
If the City Forester shall determine that any public nuisance as herein defined exists in or upon private premises and that the danger to other elm trees within the City is imminent, he shall immediately serve upon the owner of such property, if he can be found, or upon the occupant thereof a written notice to abate such nuisance on or before April 15 of the following year. If such owner or occupant does not abate said nuisance within the time limited, the City Forester shall cause the same to be abated. No damage shall be awarded to the owner for destruction of any elm tree, elm wood or any part thereof pursuant to this section.
[Amended by Ord. No. 70-58]
E. 
Spraying of elm trees. Whenever it is determined that any elm tree or part thereof is infected with Dutch elm disease fungus, the City Forester may require that all elm trees within a one-thousand-foot radius thereof be sprayed with an effective elm bark beetle-destroying concentrate; such spraying shall be performed prior to July 31.
F. 
Transporting of elm wood prohibited. No person shall transport within or bring into the City any bark bearing elm wood or material without first securing the permission of the City Forester.
A. 
Enforcement. It shall be the responsibility of the Chief of Police, Building Inspector, Health Officer, Fire Chief and City Forester to enforce those provisions of this article that come within the jurisdiction of their offices, and they shall make periodic inspections and inspections upon complaint to ensure that such provisions are not violated. No action shall be taken under this section to abate a public nuisance unless the officer shall have inspected or caused to be inspected the premises where the nuisance is alleged to exist and has satisfied himself that a nuisance does in fact exist.
B. 
Summary abatement.
(1) 
Notice. Except as provided in § 497-5 of the City's Code, if the inspecting officer determines that a public nuisance exists and that there is a great and immediate danger to the public health, safety, peace, morals or decency, he shall cause notice to be served in the manner provided for service of a summons in Circuit Court upon the person causing, permitting or maintaining the nuisance or upon the owner or occupant of the premises where such nuisance is caused, permitted or maintained and shall cause a copy of the notice to be posted on the premises. Such notice shall direct the person causing, permitting or maintaining such nuisance or the owner or occupant of the premises to abate or remove such nuisance within 24 hours and shall state that, unless such nuisance is so abated, the City will cause the same to be abated and will charge the cost thereof to the owner, occupant or person causing, permitting or maintaining the nuisance, as the case may be.
(2) 
Abatement by City. If the nuisance is not abated within the time provided or if the owner, occupant or person causing the nuisance cannot be found, the officer having the duty of enforcement shall cause the abatement or removal of such public nuisance.
C. 
Abatement by court action. Except as provided by § 497-5 of the City's Code, if the inspecting officer shall determine that a public nuisance exists on private premises but that the nature of such nuisance is not such as to threaten great and immediate danger to the public health, safety, peace, morals or decency, he shall file a written report of his findings with the Mayor, who, upon direction of the Common Council, shall cause an action to abate such nuisance to be commenced in the name of the City in Circuit Court in accordance with the provisions of Ch. 823, Wis. Stats.
D. 
Other methods not excluded. Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting the abatement of public nuisances by the City or its officials in accordance with the laws of the State of Wisconsin.
In addition to any other penalty imposed by this article for the erection, contrivance, creation, continuance or maintenance of a public nuisance, the cost of abating a public nuisance by the City shall be collected as a debt from the owner, occupant or person causing, permitting or maintaining the nuisance, and if notice to abate the nuisance has been given to the owner, the cost shall be assessed against the real estate as a special charge.
Any person who shall violate any provision of this article shall be subject to a penalty as provided in § 1-4 of this Code. Each violation and each day on which a violation of any provision of this article occurs or continues shall constitute a separate offense. This section shall not preclude use of any other remedy available to the City to prevent or remove an offending condition.
[Adopted as § 12.08 of the former City Code]
This article is intended to allow the City of Watertown an opportunity to work with neighbors and landlords to reduce problems, prevent crime and improve the quality of life in our community's neighborhoods. The Common Council finds that any premises whose owner(s), resident(s), tenant(s), invitee(s) or guest(s) have generated three or more calls for service from the City's Police Department, Building Inspection Division or Street Department for nuisance activities, as defined below, within a twelve-month period of time, and subject to the restrictions of § 390-12 herein, has received more than the level of general and adequate municipal services and has placed an undue and inappropriate burden on the taxpayers of the City. The Common Council, therefore, authorizes the Chief of Police, the head of the Building Inspection Division, the head of the Street Department and the Weed Commissioner, as provided in this article, to charge the owners of such premises the costs associated with abating the violations at premises at which nuisance activities chronically occur.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ENFORCEMENT ACTION
A law enforcement officer or authorized City official has investigated a possible nuisance activity and has elected to issue a citation, make an arrest or issue a written warning for a nuisance activity.
NUISANCE ACTIVITY
Any of the following activities, behaviors or conduct, whenever engaged in by premises owners, operators, occupants or persons associated with a premises:
A. 
An act of harassment, as defined in § 947.013, Wis. Stats., and § 410-9 of the City Code.
B. 
Disorderly conduct, as defined in § 947.01, Wis. Stats., and § 410-7 of the City Code.
C. 
Battery, substantial battery, or aggravated battery, as defined in § 940.19, Wis. Stats.
D. 
Lewd and lascivious behavior, as defined in § 944.20, Wis. Stats.
E. 
Keeping a place of prostitution, as defined in § 944.34, Wis. Stats., or leasing a building for the purposes of prostitution.
F. 
Receiving stolen property, as defined in § 943.34, Wis. Stats.
G. 
Possession, manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance or related offenses, as defined in Ch. 961, Wis. Stats.
H. 
Gambling, as defined in § 945.01, Wis. Stats.
I. 
Animal violations, as defined in Chapter 228, Article III, of the City's Code and other violations of Chapter 410, Article VIII, regarding animals.
[Amended by Ord. No. 12-28]
J. 
Trespassing, as defined in §§ 943.13 and 943.14, Wis. Stats., and § 410-23B of the City's Code.
K. 
Discharge of a firearm or any other related firearm or dangerous weapons offense, state or municipal, including carrying a concealed weapon, air gun, pellet gun or paint ball gun.
L. 
Underage consumption, possession or procurement of alcohol, as defined in Ch. 125, Wis. Stats.
M. 
Any conspiracy to commit, as defined in § 939.31, Wis. Stats., or attempt to commit, as defined in § 939.32, Wis. Stats., any of the activities, behaviors or conduct enumerated herein.
N. 
Harboring a runaway as prohibited by this Code (see § 410-10).
O. 
The production or creation of excessive noise, as prohibited by § 410-40 or 410-41 of the City of Watertown Code.
P. 
Violations of environmental requirements, as prohibited by § 332-3 of the City of Watertown Code.
Q. 
Violations of exterior storage standards, as prohibited by § 550-109 of the City of Watertown Code.
R. 
Two or more violations of dogs running at large, contrary to § 410-44A, within any twelve-month period of time.
[Added by Ord. No. 10-44]
PERSONS ASSOCIATED WITH
Any person who, whenever engaged in a nuisance activity, enters, patronizes, visits or attempts to enter, patronize or visit or waits to enter, patronize or visit a premises or person present on a premises, including any officer, director, customer, agent, employee or independent contractor of a premises owner.
PREMISES
An individual or multifamily dwelling unit and associated common areas; this includes, but is not limited to, apartments, hotel rooms, rooming houses, tax parcels and buildings.
Whenever the Chief of Police or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action taken determines that three or more nuisance activities resulting in enforcement action have occurred at a premises on separate occasions during a twelve-month period commencing with the date of the first violation, the Chief of Police or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action taken may notify the premises owner or management agent in writing that the premises is in danger of becoming a chronic nuisance. In reaching this determination, the Chief of Police or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action taken shall not count nuisance activities that were reported by the owner or manager of the premises or incidents in which the tenant or occupant is the victim of a crime. The notice shall contain the street address or legal description sufficient to identify the premises, a description of the nuisance activities that have occurred at the premises, including the dates that the nuisance activities are alleged to have occurred, and a statement indicating that the cost of future enforcement may be assessed as a special charge against the premises.
The notice shall be properly delivered by any one of the following methods:
A. 
By personally delivering the notice in person to the premises owner.
B. 
If the premises owner cannot be located, by delivering a copy of the notice at the premises owner's usual place of abode, or principal place of doing business, to a competent member of the family at least 14 years of age or a competent adult currently residing or working at that location.
C. 
By registered mail or by certified mail return receipt requested.
D. 
By publication as a Class 1 notice together with mailing the notice to the owner's last known residential or business address; the mailing may be omitted if the post office address cannot be ascertained with reasonable diligence.
Any owner or agent receiving notice pursuant to the provision above shall contact the Police Department to set up a meeting with the Chief of Police or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action taken and meet with that department head, or his/her designee, within 10 business days of receipt or publication of such notice. The parties shall review the problems occurring at the property. Within 10 calendar days of this meeting, the owner or agent shall submit to the Chief, or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action taken, or his/her designee, an agreed-upon written abatement plan to end the nuisance activity on the property. The plan shall also specify a name, address and telephone number of a person living within 60 miles of the property who can be contacted in the event of the need for further contact by the Chief of Police or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action taken.
If additional nuisance activity occurs on a premises subject to an abatement plan during the timely implementation of the agreed-upon abatement plan, the premises owner shall not be subject to penalties described in this article if the premises owner takes any of the following actions:
A. 
Undertakes the remedies provided by Chapter 704 of the Wisconsin Statutes, as may be amended from time to time, to remove the source or cause of the public nuisance in a timely manner.
B. 
Takes one or more legal steps as identified in the abatement plan to remove the source or cause of the public nuisance allowable under the Wisconsin Statutes when notified by the Chief of Police or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action taken that an additional nuisance activity has occurred at the premises.
C. 
Otherwise remains in full compliance with the abatement plan.
The premises owner shall become subject to imposition of costs as set forth in § 390-17 below in the event that:
A. 
A premises owner fails to comply with any of the requirements of § 390-14 herein;
B. 
A premises owner enters into an agreed-upon abatement plan but fails to make reasonable efforts to implement the terms or conditions of the abatement plan; or
C. 
A premises owner implements an abatement plan and an additional nuisance activity or activities have occurred not less than 15 days nor more than 180 days after activation of the abatement plan, and reasonable efforts are not made to abate the nuisance activity.
The Chief of Police or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action taken may calculate the cost of police response and enforcement for this and any subsequent nuisance activities as a special charge pursuant to § 66.0627, Wis. Stats.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
The Chief of Police or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action shall provide a notice of costs to the premises owner, indicating that the costs set forth in the notice are a special charge and listing the costs which form the basis for the special charge and a warning that any unpaid costs will be allocated to the premises owner's property tax roll as a special charge pursuant to § 66.0627. Delivery of the notice shall be made as set forth in § 390-13 herein. The notice shall also contain the following information:
A. 
The street address or legal description sufficient for identification of the premises.
B. 
A description of the nuisance activities, the relevant sections of the municipal code or state statute, dates of prior notices, copies of such notices, the amount the Chief or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action taken has determined as the cost of enforcement to be assessed, and any further relevant comments.
C. 
That all costs set forth in the notice are due and payable to the City of Watertown within 30 days of mailing of the notice required in this section, except, if a hearing is requested in a timely manner, the assessment is due within 10 days after an adverse decision is rendered at such hearing.
D. 
The right of the premises owner to a hearing before the Chief of Police or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action, if a request therefor is made before the date payment is due, and a warning that any unpaid response fee will be allocated to the premises owner's tax roll as a special charge pursuant to § 66.0703(1), Wis. Stats.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
In addition to any other penalty provided in this Code, every person convicted of a violation of any of the provisions of this article shall, for each offense, be punished by the forfeitures as set forth below. Each day of violation shall be considered a separate and distinct offense.
A. 
First offense. Any person who shall violate any provision of this article or any regulation, rule or order made hereunder, including the obligation to timely attend an abatement meeting or to timely submit an abatement plan pursuant to § 390-14 above, shall forfeit not less than $200 nor more than $500, plus costs.
B. 
Subsequent offenses. Any person who shall violate any provision of this article or any regulation, rule or order made hereunder within six months after committing a previous violation of this article shall forfeit not less than $500 nor more than $1,000, plus costs.
This article shall in no way limit the authority of the City of Watertown or any citizen to otherwise abate a public or private nuisance according to law.
Wherever in this article reference is made to the "Chief of Police or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action taken," the Chief of Police or department head may designate any officer within the department to perform such services.
The determinations reached by the Chief of Police or other department head whose department is responsible for the enforcement action taken shall be reviewable pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 10 of the Watertown Code.