Friday, 19 October 2012

Changes will help city enforce property maintenance

The Montgomery City Council approved amendments Tuesday to two ordinances aimed at residents who aren?t concerned with the maintenance or upkeep of their properties.

One of the amendments will allow the city to charge residents $50 for the second and all subsequent public hearing notices sent to the person?s home when they violate the abatement ordinance.

The abatement ordinance prohibits overgrown grass and weeds, visible debris, graffiti and litter in yards.

A second amendment changes the city?s ordinance that prohibits individuals from parking motor vehicles in their yards. The ordinance will now include any vehicle that is self-propelled, propelled by a motor or drawn by a self-propelled or motorized vehicle.

Currently, if someone reports a violation, the city?s property maintenance department goes out to the property to determine if there?s a violation. If there is, a sign is posted in the yard and a public hearing notice is sent to the property owner.

The inspections staff will go back out to the property 10 days later. If the property owner doesn?t comply, a $150 fine is charged.

City Councilman Charles Smith, who proposed the ordinance, said the problem is that there are a number of repeat offenders. City staff will go out to the property multiple times in a year, but in many cases, the property owner won?t be charged because they will comply within the 10 days. A few weeks later, staff will be out there again for a new complaint.

?The goal is to get people to take care of their property and (so we can) quit making these ridiculous trips,? Smith said. ?We have lots of repeat offenders who are complying within the 10-day period and they?re costing the city boatloads of money.?

City Councilman Richard Bollinger said the department makes a total of about 40,000 trips per year to properties in violation of the ordinance. He said it?s costing the city a lot of staff time and money.

Under the amended ordinance, the first public notice in a calendar year will be free, but all other notices will be $50. The new fee won?t replace the $150 non-compliance fine.

City Councilman Jon Dow said he?s not happy that the council keeps adding new fees for residents.

?I?m concerned we?re going to keep assessing a fee for everything that goes out there, putting more and more of a burden on the community,? Dow said. ?We?re always assessing a fee.?

The change in the yard-parking ordinance doesn?t include any new fees, but the language was changed to include things that might not be considered a vehicle, such as a trailers or tractors.

Police officers or the city?s property maintenance department can write the $50 tickets for a violation.

City Councilman Tracy Larkin said stricter enforcement on the books will encourage people to act more responsibly when it comes to keeping up their property.

View the original article here

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