A controversial property maintenance code was on the agenda Tuesday night for Jonesboro council members to discuss, with a key amendment getting council approval. The issue may also go before voters during the March 1 presidential primary.
The council voted 7-5, one vote short of two-thirds passage on the amendment. Mayor Harold Perrin voted to break the stalemate, sending the amendment to the full council.
The issue has been debated for several months, with supporters and opponents making their opinions known. A citizens committee voted 6-3 in October to approve the code, which would cover internal and external inspections of homes. Supporters have said the code is needed to deal with dilapidated properties, which may lead to crime and other issues. Opponents have said the code would infringe on private property rights as well as creating a one-size-fits-all approach to solving the issue.
The amendment from council member Chris Moore would look at the constitutional issues. Moore said the amendment was clear and to the point.
“I am offering this amendment to the Jonesboro Maintenance Code because there has been some misunderstanding and many rumors about interior inspections. I want to assure the citizens of Jonesboro that nobody wants to or can inspect a home without both verbal and written permission of the occupant, regardless if that home is rental or owner occupied,” Moore said. “Repeat, nobody wants to or can inspect a home without both verbal and written permission of the occupant, regardless if that home is rental or owner occupied.”
In his remarks, Moore said the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which covers illegal searches and seizures, would protect residents. “Nothing in this maintenance code changes that protection,” Moore said.
“To avoid confusion, I ask this amendment be voted on as presented, and as approved by the city attorney,” Moore said. “If there are then additional amendments or changes presented by the council, I will be open to amend at the desire of the council at that time.”
Council member Gene Vance said he wanted to look at the wording of the amendment dealing with “where feasible” and would like to see a two-week certified letter notification included in the amendment. Vance said he would offer an amendment to the amendment after City Attorney Carol Duncan reviews it. The issue could be considered at the council’s next meeting on Dec. 1.
Council member John Street said he wanted to see the issue decided by voters. “I would like to see it go to a vote of the people,” Street said to applause.
Street said he also wanted Duncan review the legal aspects of getting the issue on the ballot.
Perrin said the issue will be reviewed at the next two council meetings on Dec. 1 and Dec. 15 before any decision is made.
The council also honored the Jonesboro High School boys and girls golf teams for winning the 2015 state golf tournament. The win by the boys team was the school’s sixth consecutive state title, school officials said.