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City of Porterdale working on efficient code enforcement
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In an effort to improve rundown residences in the city, Porterdale City Council members are considering amending an inspection ordinance enacted six months ago to make is more effective.

The amended ordinance as read at Monday night’s council meeting outlines a set $35 fee for an inspection residents or landlords must have performed if any utility service has been interrupted "for any reason under circumstances that provide probable cause to believe there is or has been a violation or violations of applicable codes" and the individual wishes to reinstate the utility. Inspections will be performed by the city code enforcement officer.

"Our mission is to have compliance rather than increasing the funds of the city," said Frank Sherrill, interim city manager.

Under the current ordinance, Code Enforcement Officer Monty Hill has performed 36 inspections, found nine deficiencies and only three have not been addressed thus far.

At the last April work session, Council member Arline Chapman detailed the results of a low-attended landlord meeting that she and Council member Linda Finger organized. Chapman defined the word "slum" and said the city had a real problem with them. She said the cycle of renting substandard housing needed to stop in Porterdale if it was going to become the kind of town the council members hoped it could be.

"We’re not talking about decorating homes for ‘Better Homes and Gardens,’" Chapman said. "We’re talking about making these homes fit for human habitation."

Porterdale Police Chief Wayne Digby said he has placed one officer in charge of examining the town for code violations for consistency’s sake. Under the current ordinance officers have issued 23 warnings and 30 compliance orders, most of which Digby said were corrected well within the time frame provided.

For more common violations Digby and the code enforcement officer have agreed on times to be given for correction. For instance individuals will have 30 days for an unlicensed vehicle, three days to clean up yard debris or furniture, 30 days for removal of dead trees and 24 hours for animal violations. Of course, structural deficiencies will need the judgment of the code enforcement officer.

"It seems to me a very reasonable and rational approach," Sherrill said.

The council agreed that the impetus for the amended inspection ordinance and beefed up code enforcement was mainly the actions of some of Porterdale’s landlords and that elderly residents who could not afford to make repairs should be helped in any way possible to bring their homes up to code.

"If someone knows that they can’t rent a certain property until it’s up to code, then this is incentive to get the house up to code," Chapman said.

Sherrill said the council will review the results of the renewed effort in 60 days.

In other news from Porterdale City Council’s Monday night meeting:

• The city is exploring the best way to terminate their contract with consultant Chris McGahee, whom the council commissioned a couple of years ago to complete a comprehensive plan. Municipalities must adopt a comprehensive plan and update that plan every 10 years according to the Georgia Planning Act of 1989.

The contract between the council and McGahee required the updated plan completed within eight months for a total of $8,500 on a progress payment.

Until the city has a plan approved by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, they are ineligible for any grants sponsored by that body.