Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Jonesboro Arkansas Property Code NOT What We've Been Told

by Iris Stevens: In all the discussion of Jonesboro's property code, there have been few specifics cited from the actual code. Most of the debate from the pro code side is spent decrying the condition of rental and owner occupied property around town and proclaiming how badly we need this code. But they have given almost no citations from the code itself.

That may be because of the many discrepancies between the actual code and what we've been told by council members, code supporters, and the city attorney.

We’re told we have the right to refuse entry to a code official, and Mr. Moore strengthened that by adding an amendment that requires written permission “where feasible” to enter, but the regulation (104.3) renders that requirement void, “If entry is refused, the code official SHALL have recourse to the remedies provided by law to secure entry.”

According to supporters, this is an innocent complaint driven process, but I'’m angered at the idea of an appointed "code official" who’s been given carte blanch authority (104.1) showing up on my doorstep because of a “complaint” by some neighbor instead of a legitimate warrant as required by the 4th amendment.

The city attorney decried so-called misrepresentations by opponents about “daily fines for penalties.” However, 106.4 actually says, “EACH DAY that a violation continues after due notice has been served shall be deemed a separate offense,” and..."(1) no less than $100, nor more than $500 for a first offense; no less than $250, nor more than $750 for a second offense; (3) no less than $750 for a third of subsequent offenses At such time “any action taken by the authority...shall be charged against the real estate...and shall be a lien upon such real estate,” putting one’s property in hock to the city.

In 304.2 the code states, “Peeling, flaking, and chipped paint consisting of more than 25% if the painted surface area shall be eliminated and surfaces repainted.” What is the 70 year old widow living on social security going to do when the code official comes by and cites her for peeling paint. Is she going to be fined until she loses her property?

The attorney claims that property owners have the right to appeal a violation, but the city does not even have to make sure the owner receives the notice (107.3), and such an appeal must take place within 30 days of receiving the notice of violation. The attorney also claims receiving a violation does not mean you can’t sell your house; it means you have to notify the buyers of the problem. However, section 107.6 clearly states that you are required to get your buyer to agree to accept responsibility “without condition” for making any corrections or repairs for any violation the code enforcer cited.

These are just a few of the items in the code that will cause problems many have not anticipated. All of the assurances from code supporters mean little when in conflict with regulations embodied in the code itself. If even needed, this code should have been written by locals, not cribbed from an International Property Maintenance Code which does not concern itself with our property rights and due process laws.
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Iris Stevens lives in Jonesboro, AR. Highlights added by the editor of this site.

Tags: Jonesborrow, Arkansas, Property Code, not what was told, city officials, daily fines for penalties, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

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