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Farmington moves forward on new housing code

Paint sometimes chips. Shingles fall off. It happens, and that's OK with Farmington city officials. But what isn't OK is a home exterior that has become an eyesore.

That's the initial direction the Farmington City Council and planning commission gave assistant city planner Tony Wippler during a joint workshop Monday. The workshop was held so the two bodies could review Wippler's first draft of a new property maintenance code, a city code amendment to address the condition of neglected home exteriors.

The Farmington City Council asked for the new ordinance last February, after repeated complaints from residents unhappy that homes in their neighborhoods were in a state of blight. Wippler presented the draft to planning commission members last month, but Monday was the first time both the council and the planning commission sat down to talk it out.

"The main thing that came out of it was the direction they want to go with it," Wippler said. "They want it to be geared toward the chronic, neglected properties."

While the code will only address the condition of buildings on a residential property, it includes all buildings on the property, Wippler said. That means that if the condition of a house is OK, but a detached garage needs attention, the homeowner would have to get the garage into compliance.

The amendment does not extend to the condition of the yard or landscaping on the property. The city of Farmington has a weed ordinance in place to regulate much of the landscaping concerns.

Council and planning commission members agreed on several aspects of the draft, and gave Wippler direction on how to proceed. He will take the comments from Monday and rework the draft. He thinks the draft may come back before planning commissioners at their July meeting, but he's hesitant to rush through the process.

"This is one ordinance I don't want to rush. I want to make sure we get it right and that everybody is on board with it," Wippler said.

The draft includes a clause that makes it a misdemeanor if homeowners do not attend to the building's exterior once they have been contacted by the city. The homeowners would be contacted by the city's building official and given a timeline to complete the work. The misdemeanor charges would apply if the homeowner did not complete the work within the timeline. As such, Wippler will also have the city attorney review the new code's draft and approve it before a final version goes to the planning commission and city council for approval.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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