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Jonesboro Alderman: "Let the voters decide" on controversial maintenance code

City of Jonesboro

Debate continued last night about a controversial property maintenance code that is being considered by the Jonesboro City Council.  Both sides spent almost half of the 90 minute meeting presenting their arguments about the proposed code.  The code that would be adopted is the International Property Maintenance Code, which provides a set of standards that address both interior and exterior requirements of residential properties.  The standards would be enforced for those who own their own homes, as well as landlords.  Supporters say the code is needed to deal with dilapidated buildings in the city, as well as neglected pieces of property.  Opponents say they are worried the code will allow code officers to enter into homes.  They are also concerned the code will allow officers to cite residents with unnecessary interior improvements, which could financially devastate those who are on fixed incomes.  Jonesboro Alderman Chris Moore addressed the interior concerns by proposing an amendment to the code that would clarify how interior inspections could be made.

“As an ardent supporter of the Constitution of the United States, with the first, second and fourth Amendments in particular, I am offering this amendment to the Jonesboro maintenance code because there has been some misunderstanding and many rumors about the interior inspections,” said Moore.  “I want to assure the citizens of Jonesboro that nobody wants to or can inspect a home without both verbal and written permission of the occupant, regardless of whether that home is rental or owner occupied.”

Alderman John Street questioned Moore about the amendment.

“Why would this be necessary to have this in the ordinance?”

“Because if you don’t put it in the ordinance and it is just part of ordinary operations procedures, it may be subject to interpretation,” Moore responded.  “I believe you should have both verbal and written permission before you can make any inspection.  I personally want to see it in writing.”

Street said her personally opposed any person entering into homes.  Street then asked Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin that City Attorney Carol Duncan look at the possibility of bringing this property code issue before the voters at the March first primary.

“I would ask the city attorney to study the feasibility of placing this on the ballot.  In all of my 13 years on the council, I have never seen an issue that I feel needs to be decided by the voters like this issue.”

Something that might be a problem, since the deadline for getting an item like that on the March first primary is December third. Duncan said that she would study the issue to see if it was feasible and if such a proposal could be brought onto the ballot in time.  You can review the code here.