City code to see many changes

Staff writer

In an attempt to end a three-year project to merge city, state, and regional regulations into one document, Marion City Council members met Monday to discuss changes to city laws.

The changes lie in a 312-page document, which will be available online after the council votes on the final draft, which may come as quickly as the next council meeting on Monday.

In several instances, the penalties for violating an ordinance will go up.

The largest change to a section pertaining to the keeping and care of animals in city limits is the banning of the keeping of any fowl for consumer use.

Birds like ducks and chickens, with the exclusion of roosters can still be kept as pets, but raising them to eat or sell their products within city limits will be strictly prohibited.

Council members discussed adding a measure that would limit the amount of fowl that can be kept as pets within city limits.

Waste from any pet must be removed weekly from kennels or yards according to the code.

The code includes a new section on noisy animals. It is the resident’s responsibility to curb the frequent or habitual barking, howling, yelping, or mewing that disturbs the peace. If, after frequent complaints about the same animal are received without resident action, the animal can be impounded or disposed of at the owner’s expense.

Any person to hit a pet inside the city limits is required by the code to stop and attempt to locate the owner. If the owner cannot be found, the accident must be reported to the police or the animal control officer.

Another big change is kennel licenses for all kennels within the city limits excluding those used by licensed veterinarians or their practices.

Licenses can be obtained through the city clerk for $25 after an inspection of the kennel by the city’s animal control officer. If a kennel is found to be in violation of city and state laws a license will not be issued until after a public hearing is held. The cost of violations can range from $100 to $500.

Building codes

The city adopted the 2001 edition of electric and plumbing codes to save local residential and businesses from having to comply with expensive grounding practices required by newer codes.

Fees for anyone violating building codes have been raised from $250 to $500 to be more in line with state practices, city administrator Roger Holter said.

The code will also make it illegal for any business to build in a floodplain unless the property is raised to acceptable levels.

Business licensing

The new code requires every business operating within city limits, including home business and solicitors, to receive a business license.

“It is possible in the future to impose fees for licenses,” Holter said. “This will allow us to develop a comprehensive list of people with businesses in town to get a feel of the amount of commerce going on at any point.”

Licenses will be displayed in the place of business and for those without a permanent place of business, the license must be carried and shall be presented for inspection upon request.

The new code also outlines specifically what types of solicitors, canvassers, and peddlers need licenses within the city limits. Fees for the licenses and how to obtain them will not change from current ordinances, but the code states that farmers selling produce within city limits must apply for a permit except during and at a farmers markets.

Dangerous structures and housing code

While the process for condemning a structure in city limits will not change, the penalty for not complying does. In order to reduce the amount of people simple walking away from problem properties, Holter said a penalty of no less than $500 and up to three months of jail time can be given to the property owner.

A minimum housing code is also laid out.

Houses located within the city limits must meet the minimum standards for lighting, ventilation and heating, safety from fire, amount of space for human occupancy, and sanitary maintenance.

The standards must be met by all property owners, operators, and occupants or the property can be condemned by the city and removed at the cost of the property owner or resident.

Environmental code

The environmental code is a whole new section based on state and regional practices. The code deals with the removal of any abandoned vehicle, structure, dilapidated or deteriorated structure, garbage, construction waste, dead animals, or trash that may raise environmental health hazards.

If cited, residents have 10 days to eliminate the infraction or 45 days to repair exterior structure conditions or be subject to a fine between $50 and $100. A public hearing can be requested by the resident to resolve the issue.

Sidewalks and snow removal

Residents seeking to remove, construct, or repair any sidewalk within the city limits must first contact the city and have the plans approved and a permit issued.

A petition signed by at least 10 residents can be filed with the city clerk for the construction of a sidewalk.

If a sidewalk becomes inadequate or unsafe for travel the city will condemn the sidewalk and pay for the construction of a new walk in its place.

Any obstruction longer than is necessary for loading or unloading items to a sidewalk can be ticketed.

Homeowners or businesses are responsible to remove any snow and ice from sidewalks on their property within 12 hours from the time the snow or ice ceases or the following day.

If the ice cannot be removed, then sand or salt must be sprinkled on the sidewalk to prevent slipping.

Not following these rules can result in a $25 fine. If the city has to remove the ice or snow the cost will be passed onto the resident through an increase to property taxes.

Abandoned vehicles

Abandoned vehicles in yards, driveways, or protruding into public property including streets and sidewalks will be prohibited by the code.

Any vehicle found in violation left on a street or public property for more than 48 hours can be impounded. After impoundment, the owner can pay the towing and storage charges and reclaim the vehicle; failure of the resident to claim the vehicle in five days results in the vehicle going to public auction.

If an owner is not present during the time of impoundment, an attempt to contact them via certified letter will be attempted; however, if no such address or owner of the vehicle can be found, the vehicle will go to auction.

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