New rules target neglected homes in Farmington
A new ordinance went into effect on Tuesday, and it’s goal is to eliminate “eyesore” kinds of homes around Farmington.
The city’s new property maintenance ordinance is designed to get homeowners who have neglected the exteriors of their properties to finish projects or make necessary repairs.
The ordinance has been in the works for the better part of two years. Work started after several homeowners complained about the appearance of homes on properties adjacent to theirs. Most of the properties were in the downtown area.
Farmington city administrator David McKnight and building official Ken Lewis contacted those homeowners in the summer of 2012, and tried to work with them to get the exterior work completed. Most of the homeowners complied, but some did not.
That forced the Farmington City Council to ask city staff to work up a draft property maintenance ordinance. After months of review by council members and planning commissioners, the draft was approved during Monday’s city council meeting. It went into effect on Tuesday.
The ordinance provides a trigger point for noncompliance of 25 percent for painted areas, missing siding, missing or loose pointing of any brick or stone wall, stucco walls and roofing, Wippler said.
If a complaint is filed against a homeowner, Lewis will go to the property to determine whether the neglect meets that 25 percent threshold. If it does, Lewis will issue a notice to the homeowner.
The ordinance allows for an appeal process, but the homeowner will be responsible for a $150 fee to initiate that process. If the homeowner chooses not to complete the necessary work on their property, they will be subject to misdemeanor charges. The city attorney will make the final decision regarding charges, Wippler said.
But he hopes homeowners who are in noncompliance will do the work before it comes to that.
“That’s our main focus with this ordinance — trying to get to those properties that have been a chronic nuisance or long-term projects that need to get done. That’s what we’re trying to do with this ordinance,” Wippler said.
As with other ordinances, the city will not initiate investigations on property issues without a complaint.
The ordinance gives some leeway when it comes to the timing for some projects. If, for example, the city receives a complaint about the exterior of a home during the winter, it is unlikely the homeowners will be asked to start those repairs until the weather is warmer.
“That’s why we included ‘in a reasonable timeframe’ in the language,” Wippler said. “You can’t fix a roof when you have snow on top of it. There’s some common sense that has to go along with this, too.”