TOWS IMPLEMENTING CODE ENFORCEMENT

Attorney Joel Foreman advised the Town Council that the Council Members may not be on the Code Enforcement Board acting as Magistrate. Instead they must appoint a five (5) member board at the pleasure of the council, following Statute 162.21 which is simple to follow.

 

The Town Attorney may either prosecute or represent the code enforcement board but may not be the prosecutor and the judge of the charge.

 

There will not be an abundance of those who will have to come before the board because they refused to comply.

 

Although it was stated more than once by Attorney Foreman that Code Enforcement is not a money making venture but rather one in which the code enforcement or fire safety officer wishes to secure compliance with local ordinances and fire codes.

 

Although the purpose of code enforcement is not to generate money for the Town, there are costs made by the Town for which the Town should be reimbursed.  If someone is not in compliance they should pay a feed because it costs money to send certified mail on code enforcement complaints; notice of violations; notices of hearings; The administration fees should run around $115 on the average which would recover reasonable costs.

 

The code enforcement officer must receive a complaint and even if there are other violations which are visible, only the violation complained about may be brought forward to the violator.

There must be adequate notice to the violator to give him or her reasonable time to clean up the problem such as 30 days.  Give the vilolator time to clean up the violation and a notice of the violation in writing.  If they do not comply, a notice of  hearing must be sent out.  This process will take between 60-90 days.

 

Fire Chief Pittman is pleased that the Town is now giving him permission to go after violators.  Too many people are burning not just wood or lawn debris, but plastic and other garbage which is bad for the environment and causes pollutants in the air and on the ground.   There are many people causing obstructions or traffic hazards.  And these burnings are not just in a burn barrel but rather placed in pits which may be near buildings.  A child has been burned as a result.

 

In any event our Town Attorney will be assisting us with a proposed schedule of violations and the respective fines, etc. for our council to decide as the policy makers.

 

In the interim the council will have to determine who they wish to appoint with no compensation on the code enforcement board in lieu our hiring a magistrate.  At least Florida legislators allowing a board of five people handle code enforcement violations assists in the high costs of hiring a magistrate.

 

These are the basics of what is required of Code Enforcement.

 

162.21 Enforcement of county or municipal codes or ordinances; penalties.

(1) As used in this section, “code enforcement officer” means any designated employee or agent of a county or municipality whose duty it is to enforce codes and ordinances enacted by the county or municipality.

(2) A county or a municipality may designate certain of its employees or agents as code enforcement officers. The training and qualifications of the employees or agents for such designation shall be determined by the county or the municipality. Employees or agents who may be designated as code enforcement officers may include, but are not limited to, code inspectors, law enforcement officers, animal control officers, or fire safety inspectors. Designation as a code enforcement officer does not provide the code enforcement officer with the power of arrest or subject the code enforcement officer to the provisions of ss. 943.085943.255. Nothing in this section amends, alters, or contravenes the provisions of any state-administered retirement system or any state-supported retirement system established by general law.

(3)(a) A code enforcement officer is authorized to issue a citation to a person when, based upon personal investigation, the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person has committed a civil infraction in violation of a duly enacted code or ordinance and that the county court will hear the charge.

 

 

(b) Prior to issuing a citation, a code enforcement officer shall provide notice to the person that the person has committed a violation of a code or ordinance and shall establish a reasonable time period within which the person must correct the violation. Such time period shall be no more than 30 days.

 If, upon personal investigation, a code enforcement officer finds that the person has not corrected the violation within the time period, a code enforcement officer may issue a citation to the person who has committed the violation.

A code enforcement officer does not have to provide the person with a reasonable time period to correct the violation prior to issuing a citation and may immediately issue a citation if a repeat violation is found or if the code enforcement officer has reason to believe that the violation presents a serious threat to the public health, safety, or welfare, or if the violation is irreparable or irreversible.

 

 

(c) A citation issued by a code enforcement officer shall be in a form prescribed by the county or the municipality and shall contain:

1. The date and time of issuance.

2. The name and address of the person to whom the citation is issued.

3. The date and time the civil infraction was committed.

4. The facts constituting reasonable cause.

5. The number or section of the code or ordinance violated.

6. The name and authority of the code enforcement officer.

7. The procedure for the person to follow in order to pay the civil penalty or to contest the citation.

8. The applicable civil penalty if the person elects to contest the citation.

9. The applicable civil penalty if the person elects not to contest the citation.

10. A conspicuous statement that if the person fails to pay the civil penalty within the time allowed, or fails to appear in court to contest the citation, the person shall be deemed to have waived his or her right to contest the citation and that, in such case, judgment may be entered against the person for an amount up to the maximum civil penalty.

(4) After issuing a citation to an alleged violator, a code enforcement officer shall deposit the original citation and one copy of the citation with the county court.

(5) A county or a municipality is authorized to enforce codes and ordinances under the provisions of this section and may enact an ordinance establishing procedures for the implementation of such provisions, including a schedule of violations and penalties to be assessed by code enforcement officers.

If a county or municipality chooses to enforce codes or ordinances under the provisions of this section, each code or ordinance or the ordinance enacted by the county or municipality establishing procedures for implementation of this section shall provide:

(a) That a violation of a code or an ordinance is a civil infraction.

(b) A maximum civil penalty not to exceed $500.

(c) A civil penalty of less than the maximum civil penalty if the person who has committed the civil infraction does not contest the citation.

(d) For the issuance of a citation by a code enforcement officer who has reasonable cause to believe that a person has committed an act in violation of a code or an ordinance.

(e) For the contesting of a citation in county court.

(f) Such procedures and provisions as are necessary to provide for the enforcement of a code or an ordinance under the provisions of this section.

(6) Any person who willfully refuses to sign and accept a citation issued by a code enforcement officer shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

 

 

 

(7) The provisions of this part shall not apply to the enforcement pursuant to ss. 553.79 and 553.80 of the Florida Building Code adopted pursuant to s. 553.73 as applied to construction, provided that a building permit is either not required or has been issued by the county or the municipality.

(8) The provisions of this section are additional and supplemental means of enforcing county or municipal codes or ordinances and may be used for the enforcement of any code or ordinance, or for the enforcement of all codes and ordinances. Nothing contained in this section shall prohibit a county or municipality from enforcing its codes or ordinances by any other means.