Sunday, November 5, 2017

Council delves through ordinance on nuisances and blighted, deteriorated property; mayor predicts passage

By Katia Davis
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council gathered for a special meeting Wednesday to go over a draft of an ordinance that would crack down on owners who do not maintain their property.

Wednesday’s meeting gave council members a chance to go through the draft of the ordinance on nuisances and blighted and deteriorated properties and discuss it in greater detail than they did Oct. 17. Phil Moloney, the city attorney, started the meeting by going through the changes he made when re-drafting the proposed ordinance.

A major change was ensuring that property owners would have 10 days to “remedy” a notice of violation, not the original five days.

The council made no motions Wednesday, but made some progress toward ensuring that the proposal is worded reasonably and understood by all.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he would work with Moloney to rework some aspects of the draft. “Although there were some good questions raised, I mostly chalk it up to healthy skepticism, especially from a couple of members who are naturally resistant to government regulation,” he said in an email Thursday morning.

Council Member Bruce Southworth was adamant on ensuring the language in the ordinance is fair and would not be misinterpreted. Southworth cited some language as “too vague.”

“I can make anything out of that, I could probably go to your house and find something,” Bruce said regarding Section 92.22(a), regarding “the deposit or accumulation of any foul, decaying or putrescent substance, in or upon any lot, street, highway, or in or upon any public or private place.”

Council members also debated whether the ordinance should include a “sunset clause,” setting a time after which property owners in violation would not be considered repeat violators.

Council Member Sara Hicks argued that giving property owners a reset would allow some to take advantage: “We know the houses where this happens over and over.”

Hicks added, “if you have a chronic offender with multiple properties, you need enough sting that so they feel it, now that might not be fair for somebody who doesn’t have a lot of money and just screwed up.”

Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher agreed with Southworth that a sunset clause would be ideal for property owners who do not regularly violate ordinances.

Following Moloney’s suggestion at the last meeting, the council also discussed compensation for the proposed Code Enforcement Board, which Vandegrift suggested have three members with two alternate members. Hicks proposed the board receive $25 per meeting.

The council also discussed the possibility of civil fines, not criminal, for abandoned vehicles, and a daily charge for violations involving animals.

For a copy of the ordinance, in a previous meeting's packet, click here.

While the council was weary over some of the sections in the ordinance, Vandegrift said that once the draft is finalized the council will accept it.

“I firmly believe that once a final draft is ready the council will pass it on to me for my signature,” Vandegrift said. “After all, the people of Midway overwhelmingly want to see action taken on these matters.”

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