DUBOIS – Before the first reading of Council Bill 1838 Police Chief Steve Davis asked about the purpose of the second section. From there the fate of the code enforcement door hangers was uncertain.
The bill in question was the end effort to allow for those authorized to work on code enforcement to leave pre-written door hangers to explain code infractions.
DuBois City Council first looked at the door hangers as a method to replace sending a letter or tracking the offending party in person when that person may be avoiding being found. The bill as written kept the same basic current method for alerting the homeowner, but appended the door hangers to be the first step.
“I don’t consider hanging this on the door as delivering it personally,” said Solicitor Tony Cherry.
When DuBois first learned that nearby municipalities were using door hangers as notification, the City of DuBois had hoped to do the same in order to save work. According to Cherry, the city adopted the International Property Maintenance Code 2000 for its code, and by its standards she felt the door hangers would not hold up in court as the main source of notification. The result is a letter would still need to be written to each offending property owner even after adopting door hangers.
“I get the problem, but I think we added to, not reduced, the work load,” said Cherry.
City council and the mayor debated back and forth over whether door hangers could still work. It came down to the standards that other municipalities are using for their code enforcement or those municipalities have not lost a court case yet.
They could try to use the door hangers, admitted Cherry, but she added that it would only take one lawyer who wasn’t winging the case but trying to win to likely get the bill over turned.
“If this really doesn’t do anything we might as well go back to the letter,” said mayor John “Herm” Suplizio.
Cherry suggested at the meeting to begin adopting the IMPC 2006 instead of the currently adopted 2000. While the IMPC 2006 still requires a letter to be sent including appealing rights it is more flexible in getting the notice to the property owners.
Currently the City of DuBois either has to meet the property owner in person or send a registered letter. With IMPC 2006 a first class letter that isn’t returned will be sufficient for the legal process to continue.
“The last thing I want is to adopt another ordinance we don’t need,” said Suplizio.
There is still a chance the city may use the door hangers as an unofficial notice and warning, but for now it looks like they will not be serving in a use with direct bite.
Council also discussed just taking offenders to the magistrate.
“We got to show (people) we mean it,” said Suplizio.
The debate was cut short and the meeting adjourned due to the late hour.