Four of Jonesboro's top officials endorsed the proposed Jonesboro Property Maintenance Code at Tuesday night's city council meeting.
Jonesboro Police Department Lt. Todd Nelson spoke before the council and on behalf of Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott, Fire Chief Kevin Miller and Chief Building Inspector Tim Renshaw.
Lt. Nelson is in charge of the JPD Quality of Life Unit/Code Enforcement.
Lt. Nelson urged the council to pass the code as is and without further delay.
"With careful consideration, we believe that this code will provide the necessary minimum standards which will protect the lives of Jonesboro residents, reduce crime in Jonesboro neighborhoods, stabilize property values, and promote the peaceful enjoyment of one's property, residence and place of employment."
The proposed property maintenance code was held to its second reading Tuesday night.
Lt. Nelson said while the code has been accused of being government overreach, they feel the purpose of government is to protect Jonesboro citizens.
"When one property owner allows their property to fall into disrepair, they negatively affect the crime rate, property values and safety of the neighboring properties and occupants. Under the current system, these citizens have very limited means of protection against these consequences," Lt. Nelson said. "Please provide us with this valuable tool needed to best serve and protect this great city in which we live and work."
Lt. Nelson also explained the process for enforcing the code. He said there are a number of steps and appeals in place before someone could possibly be fined.
"A violation would have to exist on the property for enforcement to take place," Lt. Nelson said. "A complaint of that violation would have to be brought to the attention of the city or the property maintenance inspector."
Lt. Nelson explained that the property maintenance inspector would then have to respond to the location and document whether a violation exists.
"Next, if the violation did exist, the property maintenance inspector would issue a notice of violation or order to repair to the responsible party. They then would have the right to appeal that to an appeals board," Lt. Nelson explained.
Lt. Nelson said if the appeals board upheld the violation, the responsible party would have between 60 and 180 days to fix the problem.
"Finally, if they failed to do that, the responsible party would have to be found guilty in a district court of the violation or plead guilty or no contest," Lt. Nelson said. "The district court judge could then impose a fine."
Lt. Nelson and City Attorney Carol Duncan also addressed misconceptions regarding right of entry and accumulation of fines.
Following Lt. Nelson's presentation, the city heard arguments from both sides of the issue again.
No action was taken on the ordinance.
It will be held to its third reading on December 15.
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