City urged to toughen its codes

By GAYLE COULTER State Journal Staff Writer Published:

"When do you get to the point when enough is enough?" Fred Kidd asked city commissioners Monday night in urging a crackdown on property code violations.

Kidd is among residents of Butler Street who have asked the city to enforce property maintenance codes at a decayed and neglected house located at 118 Butler. Kidd said he and other residents have seen rats run across the yard of the house and that there's an overwhelming stench surrounding it whenever it rains.

Kidd, who said in an earlier State Journal interview that he plans to run for City Commission in the next election, said he believes it is time for the city "to put some teeth into some of these codes."

Commissioner Robert Roach said he agreed that something should be done to speed up the enforcement process.

"We have individuals who are never going to comply with the code enforcement board," Roach said. "I do think we need to be more proactive and go after these people."

Roach and the other city commissioners asked for a review of the city's code enforcement ordinances specifically regarding the number of times a violator is cited to the code enforcement board before the city opts to send the case on to Franklin District Court.

Under the current system, a violator receives a citation. Fines increase as the number of violations increase. Once the city seeks legal action in District Court, property owners found in violation can face jail time and a fine of $100 a day if found guilty.

But acting City Manager and Planning Director Gary Muller explained that property owners who are in violation are allowed seven hearings with the code enforcement board before action is sought in District Court.

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