By Dewain E. Peek,
The Town of Livingston’s Property Maintenance Advisory Board met Thursday, June 27 to consider actions taken by the property codes inspector.
After approving the minutes of the past month’s meeting, Chairman Barbie Roberts introduced the new city codes inspector, Kristian Mansell.
Before going into the night’s property complaints, Chairman Roberts passed out copies of proposed responsibilities and guidelines for the Property Maintenance Advisory Board, which have not yet been adopted by the City Council.
“Since you’all have not seen these, I’m going to read these,” she said.
“The Property Maintenance Advisory Board is established for the single purpose to provide an ‘open to the public’ forum for which all property maintenance, reported and unreported, concerns or violations shall be reviewed and discussed.
“The public should have the opportunity to be aware of all activities associated with Property Maintenance Code matters, including violations, remedy efforts, and final conclusions.
“This open forum is not established for the purpose of providing an alternate to the hearing process as defined within the codes.
“This open review of property maintenance matters will promote greater public awareness and likely improvements to the overall effectiveness of the City of Livingston efforts to maintain a clean, safe, and livable community.
“The Board of Aldermen and mayor expect this advisory board will act in a professional manner and represent the interests of all citizens of Livingston without bias or favoritism in reaching conclusions about property maintenance issues.
“Responsibilities and guidelines of this Advisory Board are:
1. Receive meeting agenda from City of Livingston prior to each meeting.
2. Convene each meeting, review and approve previous meeting minutes.
3. Discuss any items wishing to add to the meeting agenda and approve such.
4. Call upon the City of Livingston codes inspector to hear follow-up action and status of previously discussed violations.
5. Call upon the City of Livingston codes inspector to hear his or her findings relative to all potential code violations. Current photographs will be reviewed on each violation as presented.
6. Review the information presented on each property violation. Discuss openly with the Board and inspector each separate violation to determine compliance or non-compliance consistent with the definitions within the code. All violations must be given a specific code as found in Property Maintenance Codes.
7. Make a formal recommendation to the codes inspector for or against enforcement action. If Advisory Board does not agree with the findings of the city codes inspector, then it will refer to specific property maintenance code as basis and cite same upon the record. A vote shall be taken to determine consensus of Board.
8. Maintain a record of recommendations to be used as a follow-up during subsequent meetings.
9. Ask questions to the codes inspector about any code violations as presented or observed within the city limits that may not have been addressed.
“The Property Maintenance Advisory Board is not authorized to:
1. Hear directly from any citizen or property owner in attendance during a meeting.
2. Direct the City of Livingston codes inspector on how to handle a code violation.
3. Act as a substitute for a hearing as defined in the Property Maintenance Codes.
4. Recommend to a citizen or property owner what action must be taken to remedy a violation.
5. Hold a vote to enforce action on any Property Maintenance matter.
“These rules and regulations are going to be presented to the Board of Aldermen at their July meeting, I think, I guess it’s Monday, for approval,” Chairman Roberts said. “And that’s how we are to conduct our meeting.”
This would be the third Property Maintenance Advisory Board meeting from its inception that has been conducted without responsibilities and guidelines being in place, though complaints were voted on in all of the meetings. Yet those meetings were conducted as a true “forum” [a place, meeting, or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged] where property owners were allowed to speak.
Codes Inspector Mansell first brought up old business, which opened with reviewing Danny Bowman’s 210 Windle Street property concerning the abandoned vehicle ordinance, of which Bowman was found in violation in a previous meeting.
“He has complied with that situation by putting antique tags on his vehicles,” Mansell said
Next, he said Bowman’s property on the other side of the street, at 211 Windle Street, is also now in compliance with the same section of the municipal code.
Advisory Board member Matilda Speck said, “I have a question. I drove by there today and there’s all kinds of stuff everwhere.”
Mansell said the issue at hand was about vehicles, and that other property maintenance issues may be brought up at a later meeting.
Next in old business was 411 East Henson Street, and Mansell said that location was also in compliance after its previous finding of noncompliance.
Mansell then turned the focus to 204 South Goodpasture Street, saying it is still not in compliance, and that because it is considered an imminent danger, a half-box truck chassis will be removed from the property.
“We have an emergency type situation where we are going to remove it within the next couple of days,” Mansell said. “It will be gone.”
He also has put up caution tape on the walkways because of the unsafe condition of the building.
A follow up on 719 Hi Tech Drive showed it to still be in violation of property maintenance.
“He has not complied,” Mansell said. “The proper documentation has been sent. He has until July the 5th to make good on this or we will take over and do it for him.”
The property owner also has until July 19 to remove vehicles in violation of the abandoned vehicle code.
A follow up of overgrown 301-303 East University Street property showed no change.
“His time is up July the 2nd, and we are prepared to take action on that as well,” Mansell said.
In new business, property at 319 Medlock Street was accused of “Miscellaneous” violation.
“They are in compliance,” Mansell said.
Weeds and vines and tall grass have been taken care of, according to Mansell.
He said when he went to the property, “That property was clean.”
Ken Dodson made a motion to concur with the codes inspector’s finding that the property is in compliance, and Daniel Elder seconded. Advisory Board members Dodson, Elder, Mitchell White, Speck, Angela Dixon, and Chairman Roberts all voted yes. Advisory Board member Randall Alsip was absent.
Another complaint on the same property, this one for abandoned vehicle code violation, was found to not be in compliance
Concerning a complaint against 518 North Church Street, Mansell pointed to a photo on the projector screen and said, “As you can see, this has been removed, which that was a house that has been torn down. It is in the process of being buried.”
Chairman Roberts asked Mansell if the property was torn down as it is in the photo when he first went to investigate the complaint.
She suggested that it should be considered as it was when first investigated, but no photos of that time were available.
“When I got the complaint, we were actually tearing the house down,” Mansell said. “The city was doing the work, so, I don’t know exactly how to handle that situation.”
Chairman Roberts said, “I think it feels appropriate to determine that it was, you know, out of compliance when the complaint was registered.”
Addressing the Advisory Board, Chairman Roberts asked, “So, do we want to make a motion whether this property was in compliance or not in compliance with Miscellaneous Code, Section 13-102 when the complaint was registered?”
Elder said, “I make that motion.”
And Dixon seconded.
All said, “Aye.”
Whether the motion was to find the property in compliance or not in compliance was not specified.
Mansell also had a complaint for the back of that address, which he said was not in compliance with the code. The Advisory Board agreed.
The old Purina Feeds store GMC box truck that has sat in the field across from Dairy Queen for decades was brought up as being in violation, and the Board agreed.
A complaint was considered against the trailer park at the corner of Miller Street and McHenry Street. Mansell said the property has been cleaned up and one trailer has someone living in it.
“They are working on these,” Mansell said.
He found them to be in compliance with the property maintenance codes.
Again Chairman Roberts asked for a motion to concur or not concur with the codes inspector’s finding and a motion and a second was made without specifying whether concurring or disagreeing with the finding. And all voted yes to the ambigous motion.
A complaint had been made against property at the corner of Goodpasture Street and Doak Street.
“At the time that I received this, they were not in compliance,” Mansell said.
He said the property has since been cleaned up.
The Board concurred that the property was not in compliance.
And another complaint for the same property was also found to be out of compliance.
An abandoned vehicle codes violation against 411 East Henson Street has until August 26 to remedy, according to Mansell. The Advisory Board concurred.
Before the meeting adjourned, Chairman Roberts announced that the next Property Maintenance Advisory Board meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 22.