City talks zombies

The Cottage Grove City Council discussed options for dealing with its zombie house problem during the Nov. 13 meeting. 

A zombie house has been abandoned by its owner--usually as a result of the housing crisis--and now sits empty or, in the case of a particular house discussed on Monday, has fallen subject to squatters. 

"Cottage Grove has one house, it may have more, but it has one house that is a problem," City Manager Richard Meyers told the council. 

The city has turned off the water to the house but it is unable to turn off the electricity. 

The city attorney presented three options to the council including having the city lease the house from the current owner--who is out of the area and has ceased mortgage payments on the property. This option would allow the city to evict the occupants through normal channels. The second option would be to amend current city codes that allow property to be seized where prohibited conduct is taking place. The third, and most promising according to the city, is to give a 60 day notice to all interested parties. After those 60 days, the city requests a circuit court to appoint a receiver. That party can than take control of the house. 

The issue with each of the options is the liability it may place on the city. After questioning from council, the city attorney noted that it would have to be navigated. 

The issue is expected to come before the council if staff needs assistance in implementing any of the three options. 

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