Council split, mayor makes deciding vote on controversial code

Council split, mayor makes deciding vote on controversial code

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Months of discussion over the hotly debated Jonesboro Property Maintenance Code culminated at Tuesday night's Jonesboro city council meeting.

Prior to opening the issue up to public discussion, Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said each side would only receive 15 minutes for final debates.

Multiple people spoke before the council in that time, giving their reasons for opposition or support.

Following that, a motion was made and seconded to vote on the ordinance.

Councilman John Street then requested the vote go by roll call.

Aldermen Chris Gibson, John Street, Mitch Johnson, Darrel Dover, Rennell Woods and Todd Burton voted against the code.

Aldermen Charles Frierson, Gene Vance, Dr. Charles Coleman, Chris Moore, Ann Williams and Tim McCall voted for the code.

Due to the tie vote, Mayor Perrin voted. His vote in favor of the code passed the issue.

Region 8 News spoke with Mayor Perrin following the meeting on his decision.

"In the last two or three months, I've talked to both sides. I've sat down with them in my office and the conference room. We've looked at the pros and the cons," Mayor Perrin said. "This is going to be a complaint driven deal. It's not that we're going to just go down the road and look at a house. It'll have to be a call coming in. Once that call comes in, we'll go and check it out."

In a previous council meeting, Councilman Chris Moore amended the code to state that a homeowner or tenant must give both verbal and written agreement before code enforcement can enter their property. If told no, code enforcement would have to obtain a search warrant to enter.

"It could be that we have to go down the road and make some amendments to this ordinance but at least it's a start," Mayor Perrin said. "It's a start to get a property maintenance code in Jonesboro."

Jonesboro Lieutenant Todd Nelson, who heads up the Quality of Life unit at JPD, spoke before the council earlier this month on the process of violation procedures and how homeowners and tenants can appeal violations.

Regardless, the opposition was upset Tuesday night after the vote.

"I just hope that they go back and rethink it," Sue Wise said. "I think as citizens in Jonesboro, it's our American right to be able to vote."

An ordinance to place the issue on the March 1 primary went before the Jonesboro Finance Committee in November. However, a 3-2 vote against the ordinance kept the issue from going before the full council.

Mayor Perrin told Region 8 News that he realizes this is a controversial issue. Because of that, he plans on having a report to the council on a monthly basis on how the code is going.

Mayor Perrin expects that the code will go into effect in roughly two months. A Property Maintenance Code Appeals Board must be formed in that time.

"We've got a lot of things to do before we take off," Mayor Perrin said.

Tuesday night, opposition stated they do plan to call for a referendum on the issue to get it on the November ballot.

This issue first went before the city in May. In June, the council postponed the decision so a committee, formed by Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin, could take a closer look at the International Property Maintenance Code. Over the course of a few months, that committee amended the IPMC to make it more suitable for Jonesboro.

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