‘Nuisance’ rules (dis)cussed Monday
Rockdale City Council members discussed an all-encompassing nuisance ordinance Monday in a workshop session that included an earful of input from a council visitor.
“It’s going to be a nuisance to live in Rockdale,” realtor Judith Matula told the council. “We have enough laws. You can’t write an ordinance to cover every single situation.”
Mayor Larry Jones and council member Gerri Offield had questions about the form such an ordinance would take.
Jones asked for assurance of safeguards which would guard property owners against harassment f rom continuous complaints.
The council then passed firstreading of an ordinance giving Code Enforcement Officer Lon Williams authority to issue citations despite Jones’ assertion that the agenda wording of the ordinance might constitute a violation of the Open Meetings Act.
DEAD CAT— City Attorney Michelle Lehmkuhl presented the council with a “laundry list” of ordinances from other municipalities and state codes.
Jones questioned wording of actions deemed “offensive” or “likely to become offensive.”
“ What is something that’s ‘ likely to become offensive’?” Jones asked. “I don’t know what that means. I’d like to have more information.”
Offield noted that a neighbor’s cat recently died in her yard. “It was a part of the yard I don’t go into often and I didn’t know it,” she said. “This (ordinance) says the limit for a dead animal is 18 hours. I would have been in violation.”
Lehmkuhl and City Manager Kelvin Knauf said the ordinances presented for study did not represent proposals. “We need an idea of what you want (in any combined ordinance),” Lehmkuhl said.
‘THAT’S LIFE’— Matula presented an entirely different philosophy. “ There are some things you just can’t fix,” she said. “That’s life and some things in life you have to accept.”
“There are a lot of people (in Rockdale) struggling financially,” she said. “They don’t have money to fix up things. They’re using it for medicine and food.”
“We’re out of control in this town,” she said. “I think you need to be addressing the things that matter.”
“You can’t legislate common sense,” she said.
Jones asked council members to study the list of ordinances and check off those they believe are most needed. “Let’s come up with ‘A’ ordinances, things we know that we really need,” he said. “Then let’s list some as B and C ordinances.”
“I think we all believe whatever is dangerous to life or human health is something we need to look at (for an ordinance),” he said. “We need to be pretty unanimous on this.”
K nauf pointed out that by not taking a pro-active stance, the city risks giving unintended legitimacy to existing situations. “Those trailers along US 79 we’ve been talking about are now classified as ‘legal non-conforming’,” he said.
CITATIONS—The council gave the Code Enforcement Officer authority to issue citations despite Jones’ legal concerns.
“I don’t think, from the way this is worded on the agenda, that we’ve informed the citizens we are contemplating doing something that’s never been done before, granting this authority to someone besides the police,” he said.
Williams said he must follow a different procedure than procedures the police follow.
“They can see a violation and issue a citation,” he said. “I have to talk to them (the citizens), warn them, give them time to comply, write them a letter, and then I’m able to cite them.”