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Council lifts lid on changes to city codes; weeds, signs among topics
Apr 18, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer
City code enforcement marked one of two lengthy discussions at a Riverton City Council work session.
City administrator Steven Weaver addressed the council regarding the large number of Riverton Municipal Codes that need updating.
"If city staff ever goes through the codes, it is sometimes daunting," Weaver said on April 10.
Questions about how long an abandoned vehicle should be kept in one area, what to do with garage sale signs being posted on city property, how to address the problem of graffiti throughout the city, and even the height of weeds were included in the discussion.
Community development director Sandy Luers said that when a resident has a garage sale, signs will often be posted with duct tape on the green light poles. When the signs are taken down, the tape will rip off the paint. Signs are also put near traffic and are left there when residents forget about them.
Luers said she spends many weekends picking up the signs, locating the the garage sales, and informing people they should not put their signs on city property.
"I don't think a lot of people know it is illegal to put them on public property," Luers said. "I haven't picked up many signs this year, but garage sales are starting to pop up, so direction from the mayor and council would be helpful."
If a sign is deemed by city staff to be an interference with city property or in the right of way, the sign will be removed and taken to the Public Works Office.
One problem is that in various parts of town there is a green space between the sidewalk and curb, and that strip belongs to the city. Residents are not allowed to put campaign, realty or garage sale signs on this piece of land, and the homeowner must maintain that parkway even though the property belongs to the city.
Warpness weighs in
Mayor Ron Warpness said he has a problem with residents having to keep up this piece of property without being able to place political signage in that area.
In a letter addressed to the council, Warpness said residents should be able to put whatever type of signage they want in front of their property.
"On property that a normal person would consider private property and in front of residential property, in front of my home for example, I should be able to put whatever temporary signage I want whether it is a for rent sign, for sale sign, garage sale sign, or campaign signs for whomever without worrying about the city coming along and taking those signs with not so much as a thank-you," Warpness said.
The council asked that staff return to a future council meeting with an ordinance change that would allow temporary signs in the public right of way as long as they don't interfere with sight lines at intersections.
Public services director Bill Urbigkit addressed the issue of weeds and told the council that in the past, a city employee would go out and search for overgrown weeds. Riverton's current codes make no mention of height just that they must be maintained.
"I need to know from the council, do we want the weed issue to be complaint-driven, or do we want someone going out and looking for the overgrowth and inspecting the weeds?" Urbigkit asked.
Councilman Eric Heiser asked why everyone couldn't just self police.
"If there is a problem, the citizen will call and it will get solved," Heiser said. "If we are going out to look for a problem, then perhaps that is a waste of time."
Councilman Richard Gard said he really hated the idea of neighbors turning in other neighbors.
"The problem is what is a weed to somebody might not be a weed to the next neighbor, and I really don't like publicly saying we want people to police their neighbors and turn them in," Gard said. "It just gives latitude for someone to constantly be out reporting their neighbor. I think we need to leave it to complaints."
Administrative services director Courtney Bohlender told the council that the current ordinance requires the city to bill someone 200 percent of the cost for cutting weeds, and the city is not collecting those fees because no one pays them.
The council directed Bohlender to change the ordinance and return with the proposed changes.
Police chief Mike Broadhead spoke to the council about the graffiti issues and said he wanted to inform the community that the Riverton Police Department formed a new task force to protect and maintain the community.
"Basically we just want the community to know that if your property has been damaged with graffiti you can come to us and ask for an abatement," Broadhead said.