Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

August 2, 2013

Trashy property plagues city

The first in a three-part series on cleaning up the city focuses on what officials do with eyesores.

TAHLEQUAH — Ask residents or visitors what they think of Tahlequah, and many will comment on its natural splendor.

While the city lies in some delightful terrain, it must also deal with such issues as  litter and eyesores, and many people believe steps can be taken to make Tahlequah even more beautiful.

“I would like to see the city’s natural beauty enhanced,” said Diane Weston, Ward 1 city councilor. “In some ways, I don’t believe we take full advantage of it.”

Where roadside debris is a concern, many local organizations or the Oklahoma Department of Transportation work to keep area highways clear of litter. On Tahlequah’s streets, residents often pick up trash that finds its way into their yards.

Voices in city government believe the best way to further beautify Tahlequah is property maintenance. Weston would like to see more attention paid to rental properties.

“To the north of Northeastern State University, we have so many apartments and rental houses,” she said. “There are some who want to build more. Some of them are in disrepair. I have personally contacted landlords, and some have told me they never check on the property as long as the tenants pay. As a result, they don’t know anything is wrong until they are contacted by the city.”

Abandoned buildings         a big problem

Chris McClure, city compliance officer, ranks abandoned structures as one of his most serious concerns.

“Abandoned houses have usually been foreclosed,” he said. “Often they are in some sort of due process. That can drag out the process of doing something about them. They are something I would like to see cleaned up because they are prone to vandalism, fire, and people get hurt in them.”

Weston said the council and mayor’s office are researching potential updates to ordinances to encourage property upkeep. One possibility is to include subcategories within current zoning classes. Others may address rental structures, the number of unrelated people who can live in a house, and parking space availability.

“I will say dealing with property ordinances is a lot harder than I thought,” Weston said.

“You can’t just cut and paste what one city does and put it on Tahlequah. We want any new codes to meet the current standards within the city charter. I support the mayor [Jason Nichols] and the council, and we are all on the same page, but this will take a while.”

Tahlequah reserves the right to abate, or remove, buildings deemed dilapidated at the owner’s expense. City ordinance defines a dilapidated building as a structure in a state of decay or ruin; unfit for human habitation; unsecured; boarded and secured; or declared a public nuisance by the abatement board. Structures on agricultural property, such as barns, are exempt.

A building might be reported as a fire hazard or detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare. Owners are given 10 days’ notice, during which they may agree to remove buildings themselves, consent to removal or appeal to the city council.

If an owner consents or loses an appeal, the city will determine the cost of abatement and charge the owner. Fees not recovered within six months can be filed with Cherokee County as a lien against the property.

Though he figures few people are happy to see him on their doorsteps, McClure said most citizens are understanding of the city’s concerns.

“It isn’t like they don’t realize there is a problem or they don’t care,” he said. “Often they are not in a position to deal with it, say, for financial reasons.”

Weston said the goal of the council is not to create a gated-community, neighborhood-association climate in the city.

“We have to walk a fine line,” she said.

“Of course, we want property kept up and trash removed, but we also want Tahlequah to be a welcoming city where people want to live. Some cities have very restrictive ordinances, telling how many trees you can or must have in your yard. We don’t want to do that. We want people to have latitude on their property and feel comfortable.”

Text Only
Local News
  • ts-marching-MAIN.jpg Marching in step

    Tahlequah High School Orange Express Marching Band kicks off 2014 season with summer drills.

    The Tahlequah High School Orange Express Marching Band has added 30-35 freshmen to its roster this year, and drills began for the newest members last Thursday.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • studie-roberta.jpg Woman accused of stealing cash, taking it to casino

    A 35-year-old Tahlequah woman is free on bond after she allegedly took $1,200 from a man who had been jailed for old warrants.
    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies said they spoke with Jason Jones last week after Jones was arrested by park rangers for the outstanding warrants. Jones said he came to Oklahoma to see family, and when he was arrested, he left his wallet and cash with one of his daughters.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-Hepatitis.jpg Hepatitis vaccinations important today

    The phrase “back to school” may be disdained by kids for many reasons, including a trip to the doctor’s office to update immunizations.
    But hepatitis cases in Oklahoma provide a good example of why these vaccinations are important.
    “There was a time when Hepatitis A was just crazy in Oklahoma. The state was actually known for it,” said Becky Coffman, an epidemiologist with the Oklahoma Health Department’s Acute Disease Service.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • hood-raymond.jpg One man caught, another sought after foot chase

    Two people tried to escape sheriff’s deputies, and one was successful, after a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 62 last weekend.
    Deputy Bryan Qualls was on the highway when he noticed a red Chevrolet Avalanche matching the description of a truck that had been spotted at the scene of a recent burglary.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Detectives investigate deaths of two elderly residents

    Incident may be murder-suicide

    Tahlequah police detectives believe the deaths of two elderly Cherokee County residents are part of a murder-suicide that took place July 24-25.

    July 29, 2014

  • ts-Tax-free-main.jpg Shopper's delight

    Tax-free weekend coming up Aug. 1-3, just in time for back-to-school savings

    Attention, shoppers: Oklahoma’s Tax-Free Weekend is coming up, beginning at 12:01 a.m., Friday, Aug. 1.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • ballard-amanda.jpg Woman pleads no contest to molestation

    A Tahlequah woman accused of having more than 20 sexual encounters with a 13-year-old boy has pleaded no contest in exchange for a 15-year prison sentence, though 10 years have been suspended.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-arch-society.jpg Archaeologist: Spiro Mounds may have been ancient music haven

    People gathered from across the country at the “center of the universe,” bringing with them different styles of music and instruments, each thought to have its own power and importance.
    This could be the description of a modern music festival, but to Jim Rees, it is a picture of the Spiro Mounds 1,000 years before Columbus came to the Americas.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Two headed for trial for conspiracy to kill judge and others

    Two of the four people accused of conspiring to kill a Cherokee County judge and several other targets were bound over for trial Friday following a preliminary hearing in Tahlequah.

    July 28, 2014

  • Woman accused in embezzlement sought for arrest

    Court officials have issued a bench warrant for a woman who previously pleaded to embezzling more than $40,000 while she worked for Tahlequah attorney Park Medearis.

    July 28, 2014


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue