Junky SF yards? Who is to say?
Posted: Friday, March 20, 2009 9:04 pm
By CHRIS MENEES
Messenger Staff Reporter
South Fulton city manager Jeff Vowell will be researching property maintenance laws and trying to determine what can be enforced.
The recurring issue of property maintenance was debated by members of the South Fulton City Commission during their regular monthly meeting Thursday evening.
Discussion of property maintenance had been placed on the commission’s meeting agenda and a couple of residents were in attendance to make comments regarding the appearances of some properties in their neighborhoods.
Vowell approached the issue in order to provide commissioners with copies of the city’s code and to explain certain passages of the existing code, which he said is primarily for health and safety issues such as stagnant water, dead rodents, offensive odors or weeds being excessively high. He spoke about the codes being written in very general terms and said all of them are “measurable and enforceable” the way they are designed.
“It’s not to get into more subjective matters of ‘I think this property looks junky and maybe you don’t,’” he said. “At what point does it become an offense?”
Vowell emphasized that the commission cannot put into place a law which is not enforceable.
“There was a lot of healthy debate,” he told The Messenger.
Vowell said there are commissioners who feel strongly about putting “more teeth” in property maintenance as a code. South Fulton Vice Mayor Keith Curlin specifically requested Vowell look at the code to see if it can be made more strict than what is currently in place.
No official action was taken by the commission Thursday evening, but Vowell said he will research what is being done in other communities in the area “and if I see something I think makes sense and is enforceable, I will come back to (the commission) with it.”
“I will reach out to neighboring communities and see what they have and what’s enforceable,” he added.
Vowell also said he is working toward adding a code enforcement officer for the city, but the prospective officer must first complete required training and certification.
“It’s on the way,” he said. “That will help out a lot, but it takes time. This town didn’t get this way in two weeks and we’re not going to fix it in two weeks.”
In other action during Thursday evening’s meeting, the commission:
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance to set the city manager’s spending limit at $5,000. The commission voted at its session last month to increase the limit at Vowell’s request, but Vowell had agreed to research the issue to see if the change should be made by ordinance or by resolution, depending on how the previous limit was set. As a result, Vowell drafted a detailed ordinance which also includes updated information about the city’s purchasing policy.
• Received information from Vowell about the Tennessee Weatherizing Program. He said state Rep. Judy Barker contacted him with the information, which is part of the stimulus package. According to Vowell, the stimulus package will allow for significantly more funding this year for low-income families who need assistance weatherizing their homes, including items such as insulation and anything to make homes more energy efficient.
“The money is out there, but it’s up to the individual to seek it,” he said.
Vowell said residents interested in the program will have to contact Northwest Tennessee Economic Development Council in Dresden. He said he has the specific contact information at South Fulton City Hall and residents may contact him for more information.
• Learned the city has com-pleted the Federal Emergency Management Agency paper-work necessary to receive reimbursement for expenses from the January ice storm.
• Was informed that a meeting of the city’s beer board will need to be convened, likely prior to the next regular commission meeting. Vowell said the proprietor of a local establishment requested the meeting.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.20.09