London City Council looks into creating code enforcement board

Photo by Dillan Combs

Mayor Troy Rudder signs the proclamation which names November Backpack Program of Laurel County month with members of the backpack program. 

The London City Council discussed in-depth a proposed ordinance that would enable the city to act on city ordinance violations. The ordinance establishing a code enforcement board would allow the city to hold hearings regarding ordinance violations if passed.

These hearings would apply to those who violate city ordinances within city limits. These violations can include illegal burns, improper trash disposal and failure of homeowners to keep their lawn trimmed, among other violations.

This ordinance would establish an administrative board with authority to issue remedial orders and impose fines on those who violate city ordinances. It promises these punishments to be "equitable, expeditious, effective and inexpensive."

As City Attorney Larry Bryson put it, London seeks to "get the attention of those in violation of city ordinances, but not overburden them."

Bryson continued, stating that if an individual accused of violating an ordinance does not wish to attend the hearing, he or she can opt to pay a civil fine -- its price determined by a hearing officer. Continued violations may lead to remedial action, such as a lien placed on the violator's home. This lien would have to be paid before that party can sell their home.

Ordinance violations would be written as citations by city police, safety officers, and other public law enforcement. These citations would then be taken to the code enforcement board, composed of three members who all are city residents for a least one year before their appointment. The mayor would recommend these members, who would then be selected by the city council.

The code enforcement board would have the authority to issue remedial orders and impose civil fines. This board would not have the power to enforce violations that fall under state law, such as criminal or motor vehicle offenses.

The code enforcement board would also be responsible for assigning an individual as a hearing officer. The hearing officer would be responsible for administering oaths to witnesses before their testimony and may issue subpoenas to alleged violators, witnesses and evidence. This officer can be someone on the board or outside of the board; however, the ordinance recommends the hearing officer to be an attorney with experience in Kentucky law.

Following a hearing, the hearing officer will forward a written document containing the findings, conclusions and a final order to the alleged violator within 24 hours. The alleged violator may appeal the final order in District Court.

"We're not asking people to do something impossible," said Mayor Troy Rudder. "We're asking people to do something on a minimum standard level. Is this going to make some people mad? You better believe it. But those 12 people around those people in those neighborhoods are going to be pretty happy."

This reading of Ordinance 2019-10 served as the first reading. It will be made active if approved in the second reading in a future London City Council meeting and then it must be published in The Sentinel Echo.

In other actions, the London City Council:

— Chose to uphold the recommendation from Planning and Zoning regarding the Gambrel property. There will be no zoning change on this property, keeping it a residential zone.

— Heard out a donation proposal from Mike Savage, director and general manager of radio station WEKU. The station needs to replace a 20-year-old radio tower for approximately $40,000. WEKU has around $26,000 accrued for the replacement and is asking local city governments within their broadcast range for donations. The station operates on a non-profit basis, sending educational content regarding Eastern Kentucky issues to Eastern Kentucky radio listeners. Eastern Kentucky University and NPR create this content. The city council agreed to look into donation possibilities.

— Approved on second reading of an ordinance to allow local law enforcement to take down unauthorized booths around the World Chicken Festival area if the owners of said booths do not comply to orders to remove the booth within eight hours of those orders.

— Officially recognized November as The Backpack Program of Laurel County month. Backpack program volunteers meet every two weeks to pack lunches for children in need so they may have something to eat over the weekend. According to Councilman Daniel Carmack, more than 800 children in Laurel County need free or reduced lunch. The Backpack Program sends bagged lunches filled with nutritious fruits and snacks to schools, which give these lunches to individual students on Friday afternoon. Volunteers will meet at God's Pantry Food Bank in London to bag lunches on November 19 and December 3. For more information on the Backpack Program of Laurel County, or to learn how to volunteer, visit their website at http://laurelbackpackprogram.com/ or call at 606-682-0488.

— Approved the name change in the London-Laurel County Industrial Development Authority to the London-Laurel County Economic Development Authority

dcombs@sentiel-echo.com

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