Boyne City officials are hoping to make the town a cleaner and safer place to live with the implementation of a tool many municipalities already have—a property maintenance code.
City leaders were presented with an informational packet on the matter at the Nov. 19 joint boards meeting of the Boyne City Commission, planning commission, and parks & recreation board.
“Currently, the city does not have any type of property maintenance code,” stated Boyne City Planning Deinpartment Director Scott McPherson in a Nov. 18 memo—included in the joint boards meeting informational packet—to Boyne City Planning Commissioners. “The only tool the city has to take action against dilapidated properties is the city’s Dangerous Building Ordinance. To take action using the Dangerous Building Ordinance, a structure has to be significantly damaged … usually to the point that it is economically unfeasible to repair or restore the structure.”
McPherson went on to say that, while this ordinance has been used to remove dangerous structures in the past, it would be beneficial to have the ability to intercede prior to a structure becoming dangerous.
Over the years, the city has discussed the matter but an ordinance was never developed for submission to the city commission for adoption.
“Given our experiences with dilapidated buildings over the past couple of years, and the time and effort required to enforce the Dangerous Building Ordinance, a property maintenance code could offer a more efficient and less time-consuming enforcement tool.”
A property maintenance code would provide Boyne City the ability to take action to have smaller defects corrected prior to becoming unfixable issues.
According to McPherson, a property maintenance code is comprehensive and covers all aspects of a property, including exterior, interior, plumbing, mechanical, electrical and fire safety, and other potential issues.
The code details the methods for administration and enforcement to include the duties and powers of the code official, methods of notification, and an appeals process.
“When considering a property maintenance code, some of the details that need to be considered are the methods of enforcement, penalties, and appeals board,” McPherson stated. “While existing staff could enforce some aspects of a property maintenance code—such as deficiencies to the exterior of a structure and grounds—other areas, such as plumbing, mechanical, electrical, and fire safety would take a level of expertise beyond our current capabilities.”
The penalty provision for violations of a property maintenance code could be a misdemeanor or civil infraction.
Boyne City currently has penalty provisions for most other similar types of ordinances in the form of a civil infraction.
The appeals process for a property maintenance code would begin with a board of appeals.
This board could be created simply for hearing appeals regarding the property maintenance code or that authority could go to the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
McPherson said the matter will go before the Boyne City Planning Commission for review and recommendation. A draft ordinance could come before the Boyne City Commission for review this month.