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New codes officer eyed to enforce safety rules

Brookhaven officials have long looked for a way to encouragehomeowners to keep their property neat and tended to, and the newcity administration is looking to attack that problem as budgetsessions begin on Thursday evening.

Mayor Les Bumgarner said one of his plans during his tenure isto put a Codes, Health and Safety Director in office – someone whocan identify problem areas in the city, track down their owners,and get them attended to so they won’t be eyesores anymore.

“When we do the budget, we’re going to look and we’re hopingthere’s enough to do this,” he said. “This would give us themanpower and resources to enforce the regulations and codes that wehave.”

The problem has been a thorn in aldermen’s sides for quite sometime, because the process is a rather lengthy one from the time aproblem lot is identified to the actual cleansing process.

City Inspector Chip Gennaro is currently the one the bulk of theprocess falls on. He said just having someone else to take thereins would be a great help as far as being able to accomplish hisother duties.

“It would help me focus more on the construction part of it thatI do. I wouldn’t have to spend as much time looking up propertyowners and cleaning their property, and going into the posting itin the paper and holding the public hearing,” he said. “It’s adrawn-out ordeal if you’re trying to do it between otherthings.”

Gennaro said the job of solely focusing on enforcing health andsafety codes on Brookhaven residents would definitely be one thatwould be a full-time project for the new “CHS director.”

“There’s plenty of this out there for me to stay busy doing onlythis every day, but I just can’t do that,” he said. “It’s a littlemore concentrated in certain areas of the city, but it is all overtown.”

The hardest part sometimes is finding the owners of the lot,Genarro said.

“Over half of them are from out of town,” he said. “For methat’s been the hardest part is finding out who owns the property.If it’s foreclosed, you have to call this bank, that financecompany, and it’s hard to find someone who owns up.”

In that case, the city often has to clean the lot and put a lienon the property, Genarro said.

Bumgarner said up until now neighbors would complain to theiraldermen about eyesore areas, and aldermen would turn those in tothe city twice a year. Generally it ends up being a list of usualsuspects, he said.

“What we’ve got is repeat offenders, and they end up going sixmonths or a year and they’ll be back on the list,” he said. “Whatwe need is one person who can be on top of it and handle it.”

Hopefully, the CHS director will be able to issue citations inthe future, rather than having to go through the lengthy processthat is currently in place, Bumgarner said.

“If everything goes well, we hope to have him in place byJanuary,” he said. “We’d like to have him on board before that toget him educated and informed, but all this is if the budgetallows.”

Aldermen have scheduled their first work session on the new yearbudget for Thursday evening. The city’s new fiscal year starts Oct.1.

Bumgarner said it’s time for homeowners in Brookhaven to be ableto control their own property value without having to worry so muchabout inconsiderate neighbors.

“It’s not right for them to be able to affect your propertyvalue by how they’re living their lifestyle,” he said.