Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The Caldwell City Council appears to be reacting like a stopped clock on this matter, ie you can do absolutely nothing and be right at least twice a day.
Here is a smattering of the stuff of high importance the City Council is trying to digest:
WILLFUL NEGLECT ORDINANCE
"Mr. Billingsley passed out copies of Bill 10, Ordinance 2825 to the Council which contains three items
sought by the Historic Preservation Commission. The first item deals with fencing standards; the
Commission would like to have the ability to review picket fencing materials that are not made of wood.
Secondly, they would like the ability to require a Certificate of Appropriateness when a wheelchair ramp isbuilt or altered on a historic building.
The third item deals with creating a process to abate a situation where a property owner is willfully neglecting a historic property. Mr. Billingsley explained that City Code prohibits willful neglect of a historic property, but the code does not establish a process to correct the situation. He proposed a code amendment that would give the property owner a chance to appear before the Historic Preservation Commission and work a plan of action to clear up the code violation. If the property does not follow
through with the plan of action, the Commission could send a formal recommendation to the City Council to proceed with legal action.
Several Councilmen stated their concerns about the ordinance. First, Councilman Oates stated that he would not vote for the amendment. Councilman Sobba wondered how staff would be able to determine if a property is being willfully neglected.
Councilman Blacker asked if a definition of willful neglect is in the zoning ordinance.
Councilman Hopper asked if staff could enforce such a process city-wide rather than
just on historic properties.
Elaine Carpenter, representing the Commission, stated that the Commission wants to work with property owners to make their buildings look respectable. She said it is not a goal of the Commission to harass property owners; the amendment would establish a process where staff and the commission can work together to clean up a historic building.
Mike Dittenber from the Caldwell Housing Authority spoke about programs under his direction that could be helpful to the Historic District. He stated that he has the ability to subpoena witnesses and investigate housing dilapidation matters.
Mr. Billingsley suggested that the public hearing for the Willful Neglect ordinance be continued to May 17th. He will discuss the workshop with the Commission before the meeting on the 17th......."
Civic pride in Caldwell is something that is not a commodity not found in abundant surplus and the same can be said for a lot of other cities. The Historic Commission proposal should be something enforced city-wide per Councilman Hopper's input on this matter.
Caldwell's code enforcement program needs to be enhanced with an eye toward addressing "willful neglect" city-wide. Conditions called willful neglect are the face we present to the people who live here as well as those passing through our city. Civic pride while hard to legislate is worth the effort.
We would like to see a summary abatement program added to the WILLFUL NEGLECT ORDINANCE.
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 10:24 AM