Steps to improve code enforcement involving dilapidated housing were high on a list of goals Paris City Council reviewed with the city manager and city attorney during more than two hours of closed session discussion at a special meeting earlier this week.

Although Paris Mayor Steve Clifford declined to be specific about items discussed Monday, he did acknowledge afterward that the council is “very interested in code enforcement” and efforts “to beautify the city.”

“This was a follow-up discussion we planned during our annual evaluation of the city manager three months ago,” Clifford said. “Code enforcement covers a difficult issue; if you become too aggressive, it becomes a problem, and if you are not aggressive enough, it is a problem as well.”

In answer to a request by The Paris News, City Manager John Godwin shared a list of changes he has implemented since his evaluation earlier in the year, or plans to implement in the near future.

Included in the list are the following:

• Repeat offenders receiving no further notices of violation or work for voluntary compliance.

• Posting violation notices directly on doors.

• Comprehensive actions in a single neighborhood.

• File court cases AND abate the same property when necessary, rather than abatement only.

• Changes in court process, court docket; created window fine at municipal court.

• Code officers writing and mailing citations.

• Better use of iPads, technology in the field.

• Stopped mass use of certified mail for all violations.

• Shortened the time allowed for compliance from 10 to 7 days.

• Expanding contract mowing.

• Becoming more aggressive on demolitions.

Moves toward stronger code enforcement have been apparent during the past year as evidenced by both council action relating to rental property and a report on the number of violations cited.

The council passed an ordinance in July 2018 requiring basic health and safety requirements for rental properties.

The ordinance addresses six basic safety standards to include failing roofs, failing foundations, dangerous electricity or gas, no functioning water or sewer and no windows or doors that close.

At a June 10 meeting, Godwin reported code enforcement officers had worked 17 cases and two of the properties had been demolished.

According to monthly reports of code enforcement activities since the first of the year:

• three structures in January were presented to the Building & Standards Commission and four structures were demolished;

• in February, six structures were presented and three demolished;

• in March, four structures were presented and two demolished;

• in April, seven properties were presented and three demolished;

• and in May, six properties were presented and one demolished.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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