Tracking down property maintenance violations is taking a more systematic approach in Morenci as mayor Russ Sutherland heads out to look for problems.
Sutherland said the effort began at the north end of Summit Street by taking a look at house exteriors for violations of the International Property Maintenance Code. The city adopted the code in 2003.
As he works his way south, he’s also traveling down side streets to the west of Summit, then he’ll head down North Street, then check on residences on side streets east of Summit.
Addresses of houses with violations will be given to building inspector Kevin Arquette who will contact the property owner.
A few violation letters have already been mailed, said city clerk/administrator Renée Schroeder. Incidents have included tall grass, a foundation problem, bare electrical wires, and a problem with an exterior stairway, a chimney and drains.
The most common violation is from the “protective treatment” portion of the code that covers painting and siding issues.
The goal of the effort is to reach compliance, said police chief Larry Weeks, not to pile on fines.
Arquette is willing to discuss an issue with the property owner to come up with a repair plan. The circumstances of the problem will determine arrangements about how quickly the violation should be addressed.
“We recognize there are some hardship cases,” Sutherland said, “but we want to see an effort.”
He said property owners might be able to obtain labor assistance through the high school Volunteer Club or from a church group.
Aside from the systematic look through town, Sutherland said that complaints from citizens will also be forwarded to Arquette.
“They will be number one on our priority list,” he said.
If a property owner disputes the existence of a structural problem, the case can be appealed to the Construction Board of Appeals. A $100 fee is charged.
When Sutherland’s plan was discussed at the Sept. 27 city council meeting, council member Tracy Schell noted that the International Property Maintenance Code is very extensive. She expressed concern about how thoroughly the code would be enforced.