Aurora -- A proposed exterior property maintenance code was voted down Dec. 17 by City Council. The proposed code would have enacted new rules pertaining to upkeep of residential and commercial properties.

Councilman Dennis Kovach, who voted against the proposed code, said he believes the city "has enough laws in place already, and we just need to enforce them."

Council voted 6-2 against adopting the new code, with Council President George Horvat and Ward 3 rep Carl Rausch voting in favor of it.

"As our city gets older, it will be more imperative that we do something like this," Horvat said. "I believe it is something we need."

Horvat said he didn't believe there was anything "intrusive" about the proposed new law.

"It's just something we need going forward as our neighborhoods get older," Horvat said. "Some of my Ward 4 residents called me [through the years] about things like this, and we never really had anything we could enforce."

Horvat said City Council, working with Law Director Alan Shorr and Planning-Zoning-Building Director Rich Wehrenberg, "wanted to get something that was enforceable."

Kovach said the proposed code would give too much power to a code official, who would be doing the enforcement.

"I didn't like the power that this person would have," Kovach said. "It's too much power for one person."

Kovach also said he didn't like the part of the proposed code where one neighbor can complain about another.

"If your neighbors get mad at you, they can report you," Kovach said. "That isn't good."

Kovach said if someone in his Ward 2 had a problem "I would try to work with them before it got into the realm of fines."

"YOU NEED to be responsible for your property and respect what others have," Kovach said. "If you are hurting financially, you need to seek some help. There are [organizations] that can help you. We don't need any more laws [like the proposed code]."

Kovach added that a proposed code like the one voted down should be placed in front of the voters for an ultimate decision.

A maintenance code requires property owners to keep their properties and exteriors of any buildings aesthetically pleasing and in good condition. It covers such items as foundations, walls, roofs, doors and gutters. The city's new draft incorporated trash, high grass and junk vehicles into the code.

Wehrenberg previously said, "A few missing or curled roofing shingles will not be a violation, but holes in roofs would be. The code has been written to apply only to serious maintenance issues where deterioration is advanced and-or is dangerous to public safety."

"The city has authority to regulate new construction and to condemn buildings that are dangerously deteriorated," Wehrenberg added. "But it has no authority to regulate anything in between. A building owner can now allow a building to deteriorate up to the point of imminent collapse and the city cannot require repair."

Wehrenberg said under the proposed code, an inspector would not have been allowed to come onto a property without permission, but could have gone to the owner's front door to see if anyone was home. He said an inspector would have been allowed to note whatever was seen from the city right of way or any adjoining properties he had permission to be on.

Enforcement would have been based on citizen complaints and visual inspection by city inspectors, he said, and any action taken by the city under the code would have been appealed to the city's board of building code appeals, which would have had the right to modify any such decision.


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