Stanford adopts code enforcement ordinance
Published 6:26 am Thursday, May 18, 2017
STANFORD – City council members approved the second reading of an ordinance that will create a new three-person code enforcement board and put penalties in place for violations.
The ordinance adopting Kentucky’s House Bill 422 and penalties was approved unanimously during a special-called meeting on May 15.
City Attorney Christopher Reed explained details of the ordinance to council members during the regular May 4 meeting.
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“It creates a staggered code enforcement board. The first person will be on for one year, the second person for two years, the third person for three. Then they’ll be assigned to three-year terms after the end of their term, that way you’ll always have somebody who has experience on the board,” Reed said.
The mayor will recommend people for the board and the council will approve them. Along with HB422, the council adopted an ordinance to create the position of code enforcement officer who will cite property owners and carry out the recommendations by the board once it’s in place.
The board will hold two public meetings a month and they will be public meetings. Two members will consitute a quorum. No member of the board can hold any elected or non-elected, paid or unpaid position as an employee of the city but the code enforcement officer can be a city employee.
“The authority is just to deal with the ticketing and the nuisance violations as it related to property and business licenses. That’s all we’ve set them up for so far. They won’t encroach on anything else. They won’t deal with anything that has to do with the penal code,” Reed said.
Reed said the ordinance exempts any homes where the victims of domestic violence would be adversely affected.
“It doesn’t apply whatsoever to any victim of domestic violence in any capacity,” he said.
The ordinance establishes procedure for warnings, violations, citations and appeals and removes the criminal penalty for nuisance violations and imposes a penalty of no less than $250 per violation and no more than $500 per violation.
“They have an opportunity to be heard, Jeff Knouse would represent the city and they would present their case to the board and the property owner would have an opportunity to say ‘no, this is what’s happened, this is why I feel like this isn’t appropriate’ and it would be up to the board to decide,” Reed said. “It’s out of Jeff’s hands, it’s out of the city’s hand…the only person here who would have any capacity in any of this would be myself and that’s to advise them procedurally.”
If the property owner disagrees with the board’s decision they can appeal to the district court at their own expense.
The code enforcement officer first issues a letter to the property owner explaining the nuisance violations. The owner has seven days to bring the property up to code. If they don’t comply, the code enforcement officer can write a citation, giving the owner seven more days before they have to go before the board.
The letter is no longer required to be certified mail, Mayor Eddie Carter said, it is only required to be mailed first-class.
If property penalties are not paid, the city can refuse to accept property taxes until the penalties are paid in full, Carter said.
“I think that as a small city, we have to show compassion to everyone,” said Councilwoman Peggy Hester during the May 4 meeting. “There are people here like the Lincoln County Changers who are looking for properties to fix up and help people who don’t have the means to help themselves. I think we have to approach it in a kind and civil way.”
The group does not work on abandoned properties but does do volunteer work on inhabited properties, according to Tim Estes.
Carter said he’s forming a committee of volunteers for elderly people who need help with property concerns.
“We have an obligation as a Christian neighbor to help these people,” he said.
The next step will be for the city council to approve three people to serve on the board and then formally swear in the code enforcement officer.
The enforcement of business licenses is also part of the new code enforcement ordinance and gives code enforcement officers the authority to enforce penalties on businesses that fail to purchase a business license from the city.
For any $50 business license fee that is not paid by Jan. 1 a 10 percent penalty will be applied. If the fee is not paid by March 1, the penalty will rise to 40 percent. If a fee is not paid after March 1, the business could lose it’s license and if never paid, face a civil fine of no less than $250 and no more than $500.
The council voted unanimously to adopt the second reading of HB422 as well as the ordinance creating a code enforcement officer.