My name is Don Grooms, I am the code enforcement officer for the city of Madisonville. It is my hope to help the citizens and property owners of Madisonville to have a better understanding of our city ordinances.
Cities adopt building codes to keep people safe and to keep their jurisdictions appealing places to live. Building codes set the minimum standards for construction and renovation of buildings. Land use ordinances set forth regulations on what sorts of buildings can be on pieces of land and the standards for maintaining the land and structures. Code enforcement officers make sure building codes and land use ordinances are obeyed.
When a citizen takes out a permit, a code enforcement officer will look into the project a time or two while the project is in progress and again once it is done. The code enforcement officer ensures the project meets building codes. It gives the property owner a good degree of confidence the contractor has done the project correctly and safely.
In addition to construction projects, code enforcement officers make sure property owners follow land use ordinances. For instance, code enforcement officers investigate when someone makes a complaint about a lawn or vacant lot that hasn’t been mowed for several weeks. Many cities have ordinances about how tall grass can be before it becomes an eyesore to the community. In Madisonville the ordinance reads;
It shall be unlawful for any person who shall own or occupy any real property in the city to allow weeds or grass of a height greater than 12 inches, rubbish, brush or any other unsightly, objectionable or unsanitary matter to accumulate or grow on said real property. It shall be unlawful for any person owning real property in the city used for pasture grazing or hay production to not maintain along a street or roadway at least a 15-foot strip mowed in compliance with this article along the property lines adjoining streets within the city limits.
(Ord. No. 165, § 4, 12-8-1969; Ord. No. 686, § 4, 2-14-2011)
If you drive around the city, or through your own neighborhood, I am sure you have noticed properties that are unkempt. These are a big focus especially at this time of the year. It is the responsibility of the owner, or tenant, to keep their property mowed, and this includes the ditch. A notice of violation will be delivered by hand, mailed or posted. A reasonable amount of time is given to complete the work. If the violation is not corrected the city will issue a citation, and have the work done. The property owner will then owe a fine, the cost for the work, and a possible lien will be placed on the property.
Just to be clear, the aim of code enforcement is compliance, not punishment or vengeance. Reasons for lack of compliance include not only defiance and carelessness, but also lack of knowledge about how to remedy the problem and inability to afford the needed repairs.
Unsightly matter, rubbish, junk, or abandoned vehicles will be the focus of my next column.