County Staff Presents Proposed Nuisance Code Changes to Council

County Administrator Harry Burgess. PrintScreen photo/

Community & Economic Development Director Anne Laurent. PrintScreen photo/

Staff Report

At this evening’s County Council meeting, County Administrator Harry Burgess and Community & Economic Development Director Anne Laurent are presenting potential changes to the County’s Nuisance Code. They explained that the changes are focused on greater education and outreach as well on resolution efforts.

During a work session in May 2013, County staff suggested expanding the Nuisance Code to include exterior property maintenance standards based on the 2009 International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC). In general, Council was supportive and expanded topics to include rodent harborage and driveway maintenance. Parking was also a concern raised however due to the specific differences in the various neighborhoods parking is not addressed in this Ordinance and remains an issue needing further discussion. Vacant properties are subject to the Nuisance Code however no required vacant property registry was included at this time.

The IPMC is produced by the International Code Council, which produces all of the international codes such as the International Building Code, Energy Conservation Code, Mechanical Code, Plumbing Code, ICC Electrical Code, Fire Code and others. The IPMC is a comprehensive set of regulations for existing buildings consistent with the other existing international code series. The first edition of the IMPC was published in 1998.  According to the International Code Council, as of 2011, two states and more than 600 local communities have adopted the IPMC with modifications. A new edition of the IMPC is promulgated every three years. Staff utilized the 2009 IMPC as the basis of this proposed code because the County is currently using the 2009 International Building Code.

The following are staff’s rationale for utilizing the IMPC as the basis for this proposed code update:

  • Provides a widely practiced methodology toward property maintenance standards.
  • Established codes have precedent and withstood challenges.
  • Is a key factor in stabilizing and/or improving the overall housing stock quality and value.
  • Establishes consistency, logic, and clarity of implementation – documented case study exists from other communities.
  • Established IPMC trainings and certifications are available for staff.
Staff recognizes that outreach and education on this proposed code is important. Newspaper and radio ads, flyers, and door hangers will be used to inform and remind the community of ongoing enforcement initiatives and seasonal reminders.
The existing Code Enforcement system is designed to give the property owner multiple opportunities to work with Code Enforcement staff for corrective action prior to issuing a citation and this will remain the process under the proposed code. The Municipal Judge, not County staff, will make the final determination on Nuisance Code citations.
There will be cases where a property owner(s) has physical, mental or monetary challenges. Staff is actively working on strategies to provide or link these property owners with support or resources to assist them in rectifying their violations such as yard maintenance, painting, or debris clearance.