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CITY GOVERNMENT

Residents to see quicker fees for failing to remove snow

Some property owners protest proposed rental inspections

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On blustery winter days, Carroll residents now have 24 hours to clear their sidewalks before being fined, according to an updated snow-removal policy approved by the Carroll City Council Monday night.

Prior to this new policy, Carroll residents still had 24 hours to clear their sidewalks, but if they didn’t do so, finalizing the paperwork through the city’s nuisance-abatement process took time — sometimes about 10 days, Carroll City Manager Mike Pogge-Weaver said. This new policy will allow the Carroll Police Department to serve notice 24 hours after it snows, and then charge home and business owners to have the city remove the snow if they don’t do it themselves in another 24 hours after receiving the notice.

Members of the Carroll Police Department would remove the snow, Pogge-Weaver said.

“The current code is dealt with through our nuisance-abatement process,” Carroll Police Chief Brad Burke said. “It’s very slow. It’s (not) very timely, and by the time we are cleaning it up, it’s snowing again (and) we are starting all over. What this amendment does is, it streamlines the way we are delivering notices to residents and also puts an exact timeline of when the city will take action.”

Pogge-Weaver said this policy change comes after the city has continued to receive complaints from residents — about 24 total yearly from both residential and business areas, Burke said.

“Just the number of people who weren’t cleaning it up, and we’re having to go through this long process, and we’re getting complaints from neighbors of, ‘Why isn’t this person removing the snow?’ ” Pogge-Weaver said. “People are out walking, and they just want it removed to be safe.”

Carroll business owners and residents who do not clear their sidewalks 24 hours after receiving a notice will be fined $50 and an additional $75 administrative fee.

In other news, city officials further discussed a proposal last touched on in July to hire an employee to inspect the city’s rental properties.

The plan would charge landlords in Carroll a $35 annual permit fee for the first unit in the rental complex and an additional $10 for each additional unit for inspections. There are about 1,000 rental units in the city. Landlords would not be charged for the first inspection, but if they violate inspection codes, they would be charged $15 for the first re-inspection and an additional $55 if the inspector is called back to the property again, Carroll Chief Building Official Greg Schreck said.

The inspections would be held every three years, but landlords would be charged annually to spread out the fees.

“That was done as a response from property owners saying we were collecting too much up front (in the previous proposal),” Councilman Clay Haley said.

Margaret Saddoris, who owns Camden Apartments, a 60-unit complex in Carroll, spoke out against the proposed fee in July and was present again at Monday night’s meeting to voice her opposition to the city’s plan.

“If we give you proof that we’re inspected, why would we have to pay for another inspection?” she asked.

Although many property owners such as Saddoris already pay for inspections through their insurance agencies, and others also are inspected if they offer rental discounts through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development or HUD system, Pogge-Weaver said the city still has been receiving many complaints of rental properties in poor condition. The city’s inspection plan would ensure every rental property is being properly maintained.

“We have a number of housing in our area that are deteriorating,” he said. “We have some really good landlords, (but) we have a lot of a lot of property owners who are not doing the right things. Our housing stock is very important to the community. The costs are expensive to build new houses. If we don’t maintain what we have, if we don’t maintain the neighborhood we have, we are going to lose that housing stock.”

The Carroll City Council will continue discussing the plan before taking action.

I have heard a lot of people say they believe this will be good for Carroll overall,” Councilwoman Carolyn Siemann said.

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