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Kenneth City has had enough of eyesores

KENNETH CITY — Town residents who have been putting off home improvement chores might want to hurry down to the nearest do-it-yourself store before new rules covering the upkeep of property go into effect.

This month at a specially called morning meeting, the Town Council gave tentative approval to a 25-page ordinance that sets standards for the maintenance of buildings in Kenneth City.

The council is expected to give final approval to the ordinance tonight at 7:30 at the Community Hall, 4600 58th St. N.

Mayor Muriel Whitman said there is no urgency about passing the ordinance, but the council met to discuss the many provisions and then held a special meeting to give it initial approval. No residents attended.

The goal, she said, is to give the town more power to force owners to keep their properties in good shape.

"It's just kind of something we have that would really allow us to do some things," Whitman said. "It covers everything."

The council saw the need for new rules: "Some of the houses are so dilapidated," Whitman said. "What we have now just doesn't cut it."

The so-called Building Maintenance Ordinance is designed to "protect the public health, safety, morals and welfare of the town," according to the proposal.

It declares that "all buildings or structures which from any cause endanger the life, limb, health, morals, property safety or welfare of the general public or their occupants, diminish property values or detract excessively from the appropriate appearance of the area, shall be required to be repaired, vacated or demolished."

The proposed ordinance is all-encompassing:

• Foundations, floors, walls, ceilings, roofs, windows, doors and all other building parts must be structurally sound.

• Gutters and downspouts must be kept clear of debris and in a "good state of repair and working condition."

• Also covered are inside and outside stairways, chimneys, plumbing, electrical wiring, meter rooms, elevators and bathroom floors.

• The interior of buildings must be "free from the accumulation of garbage, rubbish and/or waste at all times," and garbage must be properly disposed of.

• Covered are the outside appearance of the buildings, driveways, roofs, yards, awnings and marquees. Exterior surfaces must be painted or sealed. The paint must not peel or flake. If an area greater that 1 square foot needs to be repainted, the entire wall must be painted. Patchwork painting is forbidden. Graffiti must be removed within 48 hours after it appears and the surface "restored to its original state."

• Any broken doors, windows or other openings must be repaired within 30 days from the time boards are placed over the opening. Boards, if placed over any opening for more than 30 days, must be painted with at least one coat of exterior paint that matches the buildings.

Enforcement of the ordinance would rest with the police chief or building official, who are given permission to enter property to inspect it if they have probable cause to believe a violation is occurring.

If the owner denies entry to his property, the mayor can ask the town attorney to ask for a court order allowing entry.

Those who fail to comply would be prosecuted in the county court. No fines or other punishment are set forth in the proposed rules, but anyone convicted of violating them will be "punished within the limits of and provided by law."

Kenneth City has had enough of eyesores 08/12/08 [Last modified: Sunday, August 17, 2008 9:50pm]
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