After deferring a vote for four months, the county’s Board of Commissioner’s appears to be ready to pass a tougher code enforcement ordinance.
“We believe we have something that actually works for the county and is doable and is in compliance with the laws of the county,” said Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, chairwoman of the board’s county operations and public safety committee. “So when it gets to court [judges] can actually adjudicate the ordinance.”
The ordinance is in response to complaints from residents about overgrown grass and weeds, inoperable vehicles, commercial vehicles in residential areas, and unmaintained pools.
“I’m a citizen that has spent an enormous amount of time over the years trying to ensure that where I live looks decent,” said Gil Turman, who served on a code enforcement task force that looked into the problems of county code violations.
“If you ride down I-20 and you get off on any exit in DeKalb County, it’s shameful as to what you start to see,” Turman said.
Under the proposed ordinance, violators could receive a fine of up to $1,000.
Some county residents said they want the Board of Commissioners to establish a minimum fine of $250 for code violators.
“We want to be a beautiful county and we have high expectations,” said Gil Turman. “If you violate the law then you’re going to pay for it.
“I don’t think we need to play games,” Turman said. “That’s why we got the nastiest-looking county in the metro area.”
Sutton said the $250 minimum is not needed but judges will decide what fine is fair in each case.
“The reason that we have judges in the judicial system is so they can hear each individual case and make a judgment,” Sutton said. “We set the minimum and maximum fines and I believe we should let the judge do their job.”
Commissioner Lee May objected to Turman’s characterization of the county.
“We don’t have the nastiest county,” May said. “We’ve got sections that are nasty.
“This is only one baby step to get us to where we need to go,” May said. “Now we need to look at the comprehensive plan.”
The code compliance ordinance is on the agenda for the Board of Commissioners’ Sept. 13 meeting.