Code Enforcement Challenges Discussed with Pulaski County Plan Commission

Efforts to clean up Pulaski County continue to be hampered by a lack of manpower and outdated ordinances. That’s according to a discussion during last week’s advisory plan commission meeting.

Commission Member Matt Rausch said the condition of certain properties might be one of the reasons people choose not to live in Pulaski County, along with the high income tax rate. He added that county-wide zoning was put in place with the understanding that it would take care of those issues. “When you look at some of these other places, it’s like, if we don’t have a good enforcement of it, it’s not really doing a lot of good to have it,” Rausch said. “I mean, they really caught hell over doing it because people are like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be restrictive,’ and stuff like that. And it’s like, well, if it doesn’t get rid of some of these other problems, I mean, what’s the procedure for moving forward on something like that?”

Part of the problem, according to Building and Zoning Coordinator Karla Pemberton, is that the Building Department isn’t technically a code enforcement entity, and the Sheriff’s Office isn’t always able to help. “Building Inspector] Doug [Hoover] and I have been in the Sheriff’s Office several times on several properties that have had people complaining saying they see rats coming out of a property that Doug has gone to and I’ve sent notices and I’ve gone past several, too. And he says, ‘There’s not much I can do,'” Pemberton said.

But Pemberton added that she and Hoover simply don’t have the time to step up enforcement. “Doug literally spends all day driving, and then the next week, I literally spend all week of my part-time hours writing these violations that I truly have a stack of this high,” she said. “The phone calls that come in.”

Hoover has repeatedly asked the county council to expand Pemberton’s position to full-time, but so far, that hasn’t been approved.

Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer pointed out that many things can’t be regulated through zoning but require separate ordinances. “We don’t have an abandoned vehicle ordinance on the books yet,” Origer noted. “There is an old rubbish ordinance. There’s no fee schedule, and I think that’s technically under the Health Department’s jurisdiction for enforcement, according to the ordinance.”

Pemberton noted that many people do follow up with notices to clean up their properties. Specifically, she said the Building Department has seen a 93-percent success rate in Star City.