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Hannibal takes control of former motel off Mark Twain Ave

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HANNIBAL (WGEM) — The city of Hannibal is targeting an abandoned property that city officials said has occupied the time of city workers and police.

City council voted for the city to take ownership of a former motel at 612 Mark Twain Avenue.

This property has been a common spot for squatters and break-ins, city officials said with the previous owners unable to do anything, now the city hopes to do something about that.

"I can hear them breaking the doors down or open, often there will be doors that are left open," said Owner of the Opened Book Deborah Wise.

Wise said since the property at has become vacant, it's become a concern.

"Understandably homeless people have been making use of the shelter, but there have been, already, two fires on the property at least I'm thinking which is a concern," said Wise.

Hannibal Mayor James Hark said that's part of why the city council voted to take control of the property Tuesday.

"In recent months it has become a habitat for illegal activity, criminal activity, and it has become a public health hazard," said Hark.

Mayor Hark said some concerns about funding for demolition and the long term plans for the development of the building were brought up before the vote.

But for now, while there isn't a timeline on when demolition or development could happen to the property:

"First and foremost we're going to secure the property so people can't get in it, that is the number one priority right now, secure the property so that it isn't an incubator for crime," said Hark.

Something Wise said she's glad to hear.

"Which is a good thing, I think, because it's been vacant for quite a while now," said Wise.

Hannibal Police Chief Lyndell Davis presented work his officers have been working on in recent weeks to the council last night about the relationship between abandon properties and areas where police often respond to crime.

Davis said it's something police and the city can use to address abandon property issues.

"As far as the city goes, a lot of their efforts have been to try and deal with this problem, but it's been more of a case-by-case basis as they've come in, now knowing exactly where they are at, they can start maybe increasing their efforts to have more of a focused effort in dealing with this problem," said Davis.

The resolution to take ownership of the property here passed five to one.

The city approved the annexation of a cemetery near 1200 Clark street,

City council also approved new property tax rates for 2020, which city officials said includes a slight increase due to a slight decrease in property value in the city.

Officials from the Hannibal board of public works presented their new online code enforcement website.

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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