Council approves new amendment to proposed property maintenance code

Council approves new amendment to proposed property maintenance code

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Jonesboro City Council heard arguments from both sides Tuesday night on the proposed Jonesboro Property Maintenance Code.

Before discussions took place, an amendment was made to the proposed code.

Alderman Chris Moore proposed an amendment due to what he called "misunderstanding and rumors about interior inspections."

Moore proposed adding a "written consent" form to the code for entering a property.

That would go along with having verbal consent from the property owner or tenant.

"I want to ensure the citizens of Jonesboro that nobody wants to or can inspect the home without both verbal and written permission of the occupant, regardless if that home is rental or owner occupied," Moore said.

Right of entry to a property has been a huge topic of discussion since the proposed code was brought before the council.

"Since this inspection is voluntary, this provides written information to any occupant of their right to refuse, stop or limit any inspection at any time of their choosing, either before or after the start of the inspection," Moore said. "The 4th Amendment gives everyone this right and nothing in this maintenance code changes that protection."

When questioned by a fellow alderman as to why the amendment was necessary, Moore stated he wanted to make sure nothing was up to interpretation.

"I believe if you don't put this in the ordinance and it's just in the standard operating procedures, it may be subject to interpretation. I believe that you should have both verbal and written permission before you could make any inspection and I personally would want to see it in writing," Moore said. "I don't care if it's voted up or down. I would want to make sure that if we're going to do interior inspections that we have no misunderstanding that a person must give written permission before anyone can do an inspection in their house."

Though 5 aldermen voted against the amendment, it ultimately passed with an additional vote from Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin.

Councilmen Street, Johnson, Dover, McCall and Burton voted against amending the ordinance.

Councilman Gene Vance also requested an amendment be made for property owners to be given a certified letter of notification two weeks prior to any inspection if the property is not owner-occupied.

Vance requested that the possible amendment be looked over in the next two weeks, prior to the next council meeting.

Councilman John Street then asked the city attorney to look into the feasibility of having the issue placed on the ballot in the March primary.

"This will affect every single person who lives in the city. Everyone who owns a piece of property or rents a piece of property," Street said. "In the 13 years I've been on the council, this is the only item like this I've ever seen that I think should go to the vote of the people."

Streets requested garnered approval from quite a few people in the audience.

The ordinance goes back before council for a second reading in 2 weeks.

The council previously stated that they plan to hold the ordinance to a full 3 readings before voting.

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