I am often asked what my job as Code Compliance Officer entails. The short answer is, I inform people of their code violations, most often for overgrown grass and weeds, junked motor vehicles and other nuisances. However, the true scope of the job is a little more involved.
As a Code Enforcement Official, I am tasked with many different roles in the community. On any given day, I am an inspector, a problem solver, a mediator, a trash collector, a tree trimmer, a researcher and an educator. I may be knee deep in a roach infested house documenting life safety issues in the morning and in the afternoon, fishing a couch out of the river.
You may see me relocating garage sale signs, which by the way, need to be 10 feet behind the curb. I might be sitting at my desk reviewing changes to City Code or just doing paperwork (oh, the paperwork).
Seriously though, the most obvious function of Code Enforcement is the control of blight and decay in neighborhoods. Every community is challenged with aging homes and buildings. As these properties age they can fall into disrepair if not properly maintained. We in the Building Inspections Department are tasked with assessing these properties and ordering them to be repaired or demolished.
Over the past three years the Building Inspections Office has played a part in the removal of more than twenty- five dilapidated or abandoned structures. Through code enforcement we are able to identify these properties and begin the process of repair or removal. In doing so, we protect the property values of neighboring properties as well as lowering incidents of crime in the area.
Building Safety is another primary role of Code Enforcement in the community. Through the adoption of the International Property Maintenance Code, the City of Beatrice has enacted the ordinances necessary for the safety and well being of the citizens. Most safety violations we encounter deal with non-functioning or complete lack of smoke detectors, inoperable windows, infestations and insanitary living conditions.
Smoke detectors are required in each bedroom and hallway or area leading to the bedrooms as well as on each floor including basements. Windows are required to open and remain open by themselves without the use of sticks or other props. Windows may be the only means of egress in an emergency situation and must function properly to avoid a tragedy.
Code Enforcement also plays a role in the perception of our city. A clean well maintained city projects a positive image to those looking to invest in our community. By showing pride in our properties and keeping yards mowed and junked vehicles and couches off of our front yards, we help those trying to attract new businesses, jobs and residents to our community.
These efforts are already starting to bear fruit as we have seen many new buildings and homes constructed and old tired buildings renovated and brought back to life. We have seen the old hospital come down and a new neighborhood spring up almost overnight. As for the old Store Kraft site, I can’t wait to see what new opportunities develop there.
In closing, I’ll offer some tips to avoid any “nasty-grams” from my office.
1. Mow your yard.
2. Couches and recliners are not outdoor furniture.
3. Vehicles need to have unexpired plates attached AND must now be operable or kept inside a building, or you may keep two vehicles behind a privacy fence in your back yard.
4. Garage sale signs and any other temporary signs must be 10 feet behind the curb or they may be removed.
5. Yeah, you probably need a permit for that project so call us first.
If you have questions regarding Beatrice City Codes, building permit requirements, or property maintenance complaints, please contact the Building Inspections Department at 402-228-5250.