City officials will take a slow, methodical approach in implementing a property maintenance code that was approved earlier this week, Mayor Harold Perrin said Thursday (Dec. 17).
During a press conference at the Municipal Complex, Perrin said the city will have a 60-day moratorium on starting the code. Lt. Todd Nelson, with the Jonesboro Police Department Quality of Life unit, said the wait will give city officials an opportunity to educate the public on the code.
The Jonesboro City Council deadlocked 6-6 Tuesday on the third reading of the Coe, which was scheduled to take effect Jan. 15. With the moratorium, the enforcement of the code will begin March 15.
Supporters have said the code will help make a dent in the number of dilapidated homes in Jonesboro, while opponents have said the code could have an adverse impact on people in need.
Perrin, who broke the tie Tuesday night, said there will be an educational process in the next two months over the code. A main focus will be to help people keep their properties in compliance with city code, Perrin said. When asked about the vote Tuesday, Perrin said there are strong feelings on both sides of the debate.
The code was approved in its first two readings, while a citizens committee voted 6-3 earlier this year to send the code to the council. Perrin said city officials worked for nearly two years to come up with a plan to meet Jonesboro’s needs.
Also, the council amended the code to include protections on right of entry into a home. Under the amendment, code enforcement must get written permission before they can enter a home. However, police or code enforcement can enter a home in the case of an emergency, Perrin said.
Perrin said he will also appoint a 5-member commission, which will be confirmed by the city council, to hear complaints, and will work to implement a program to help people stay in their homes.
Another plan calls for using nearly $500,000 in federal community development block grants to help repair homes of people in need, Perrin said.
There has also been talk of a proposed initiative to be on the Nov. 2016 election ballot to repeal the code. Perrin said it would be up to the proponents to seek the repeal, noting there is a lot of time between now and November to implement the code effectively.
Nelson said the code does not include a provision to remove a person from their home, noting the code will be enforced in a “uniform, fair manner.” He also reiterated that city officials will work with groups to keep people in their homes.