Kenbridge enforces property violation fees

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Kenbridge Town Council sought to further enforce ordinances during the council’s meeting Sept. 18 concerning blighted properties, specifically enforcing penalties on property owners who had 45 days to make repairs and have not done so.

The council previously took action to enforce blighted property ordinances during its June meeting.

As the ordinance stands now, the first ticket or summons for failure to obtain any required inspection per day is $100, according to the county code. Second and subsequent tickets or summonses per day is $350. Violation of any other provision of the property maintenance code for the first ticket or summons per day is $100. Second and subsequent tickets or summonses per day is $350.

Fowler said in an earlier Dispatch report that the penalties are aimed toward blighted properties, an issue the town has worked to fix in recent years.

Fowler said while the town does not have an exact definition for blighted properties, she said blighted properties typically include residences, businesses or buildings that are in serious states of disrepair, which can include having broken windows, flaking paint and exposed siding.

She said blighted properties and maintenance code violations are defined and inspected by the Town’s Property Maintenance Code Official, Cedric Stovall.

Fowler said Stovall, after finding a residence, business or building considered a blighted property, will notify the owner by sending a letter asking that the issue be addressed.

Fowler said if the owner refuses to cooperate or fix the property issue, the town, through its new ordinance, can issue civil penalties if people continue to violate the maintenance code after receiving notice from the town.

The document cited that people can appear in person or in writing by mail to the town before a trial date.

“Any person so appearing may enter a waiver of trial, admit liability and pay the civil penalty established for the offense charged. Such persons shall be informed of their right to stand trial and that a signature to and an admission of liability will have the same force and effect as a judgment of court,” the document cited. “The violator shall also agree in writing to abate or remedy the violation within six months after the date of payment of the civil penalty.”

People who do not request a waiver of trial would be tried by the general district court. The court would then typically order owners of residential or nonresidential units in violation of the code to abate, or correct the situation within a certain time frame established by the court.