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Code Enforcement Dept. is having outstanding year

CITY NOTES

Code Enforcement Dept. is having outstanding year

The Code Enforcement Department is one of the newer city departments operating for just under three years. This office handles the nuisance violations and conducts City rental and building inspections. The Public Safety Director oversees the day to day operations of the Code Enforcement Department. The two code enforcement officers work directly with the Police Department and with the City Attorney to address issues in the most efficient ways possible. The staff is also involved with performing the federally subsidized Section 8 inspections and taking action on disorganized / un-mowed yards and abandoned structures.

Here is a brief description of the scope of work covered.

Do you believe there is a nuisance in your neighborhood?

A nuisance is created when the exterior areas of a property are not maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition. Call us or send an e-mail with the address if you think something is not right in your neighborhood and we will look into it. Staff will investigate the issue to determine the City Code violation and prepare an action to clean up if needed. Should the issue be long grass, a notice will be sent to the property owner. If the property issue is not corrected in the allowed time, another inspection is conducted and preparations for legal action are taken. Legal action may include fines and property tax assessments if the City has to clean up the problem.

The code enforcement staff works with the legal team to clean up the exterior of occupied buildings and also to maintain the exterior maintenance of abandoned buildings located throughout town.

The department is making advances in cleaning up the community but many properties may take years to change the cycle of deterioration.

Please remember, just because there is no immediate action seen, it may not mean that no action is being taken. Sometimes the severity and level of cooperation on the part of the responsible parties, can delay a positive outcome. It might also take time should harsher legal options be needed.

Are you familiar with the building permit process?

The City Council has adopted the State Building Code which includes the International Building Codes, Energy Conservation Code, State Plumbing Code and the 2014 National Electrical Code for the citizens of Charles City. A building permit is required if your project is a renovation, addition, demolition, new construction, or planned change of occupancy. A permit is granted to the owners of the property to conduct their construction activities according to the necessary code requirements.

This requirement ensures the City’s housing stock is safe and suitable for re-sale.

A permit application with the plans and details may need to be reviewed for zoning, flood location, engineering, and building construction. The city appreciates early notification in the plan development process so a review of documents can be done during a normal time frame. Other building permit applications with complete information may be approved in one or two days.

Two copies of plans are required with the necessary application and/or plot plan, floor plans, cross section for us to review. We review the documents pertaining to code compliance and stamp the drawings “approved” with any code comments. The permit applicant receives one set of plans that stay on the jobsite.

With this procedure, problems are minimized after the work is underway.

The yellow permit card is permission granted by law to perform the described work. The card must be displayed on the front of the structure where it can be available and observed from the public street. Please make it

Jason Webster and Paul Hughes

available to the inspector during the progress inspections. The permit card remains on the structure until the final inspection is completed.

When work is complete, please call the Code Enforcement Department for a final inspection. The staff suggests you do this before you make a final payment to the contractor.

The code enforcement office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each business day. Permit holders are requested to call in the morning for the same day’s afternoon inspections and the afternoon for the next day’s inspections. On any zoning request, staff also can meet the permit applicant at the job site prior to the permit issuance. This verification of the zoning issues that may be incurred with an addition or accessory building. Just e-mail or call and include your address so we can provide the proper forms and permit applications for use. Many of the forms are available online and copies are located in City Hall just outside the Code Enforcement office.

Rental housing registration and inspections

Residential rental registration/ inspections have been going smoothly. This is the third year of rental registrations. During the past year, the City Council has amended the Rental Ordinance to require landlords to renew their registrations by October 31 st every year. Charles City has about 160 landlords that rent out living units.

This year all of those landlords had their properties renewed on time.

The number of renewals and new rental units registered is currently at 917 units.

Staff is also aware of around 20 units that might be rentals that need to be registered for the first time. Letters have been sent to those property owners. They could be facing civil or criminal charges, should they not comply in a timely manner. If you are a tenant in a rental property and feel there are issues that would not pass a rental inspection or need addressed, please contact this office.

Make the Residence Permit Applications easier to obtain.

Other improvements projected to be completed this year include a method to assist in obtaining permits for fencing, roofing and siding permits. These hand-outs will show contractors and lay persons what the building code requires for the work described.

The Code Enforcement Department has seen an outstanding year in residential and commercial construction. The number of permits has surpassed all previous years and the dollar amount of valuation has topped $42.8 million.

This has kept the Department busy along with all the other duties.

During the same time frame, this Department has addressed 48 long grass situations and identified and processed 35 nuisance properties.

Staff has also seen 7 vacant/ dangerous buildings demolished.

One property was able to be used as a training/controlled burn for the Charles City Fire Department.

They were able to run several fire evolutions through the house giving new firefighters a chance to learn by training in real life scenarios, before letting it burn completely.

This department helps with the overall plan of making the town look more presentable and making it a safer place to live. We look forward to working with you.

Contact the City of Charles City Code Enforcement Department, at 105 Milwaukee Mall, or by phone, 641-257-6310, fax: 641-257-6331 or e-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]

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