Ordinance complaint comes before Council

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Craig resident Dave Manley isn't sure which is more of a nuisance, a city ordinance or the person who enforces that ordinance.

Manley submitted a petition with 418 signatures calling for the termination of city Code Enforcement Officer Rex Splitt and appeared before Craig City Council Tuesday night to ask what Council members planned to do about it.

Manley was told there was a process to be followed and for the Council to address his complaint, he needed to follow that process. Manley's petition has no legal standing and the Council is not obligated to take any action. In fact, Council is prohibited by city charter to "interfere with administrative functions" of the city. Council's only function when dealing with personnel is as an appeals board after a complaint has gone through, but not been addressed, by the employee's supervisor.

According to Manley, there have been no official complaints filed with Splitt's supervisor, City Manager Jim Ferree.

Manley brought copies of the 1996 Community Survey to the meeting to illustrate his point that people aren't concerned about community beautification.

"I don't see anything in the survey that directs citizens to clean up their yards," Manley said.

Council member Bill Johnston pointed out that among resident's priorities, community beautification was rated as the third, fourth and fifth priorities in the survey.

The survey was taken of more than 400 residents and Manley said he wasn't sure that 400 people was a good representation of the community's concerns. Johnston was quick to point out that the petition Manley expected action on contained just more than 400 signatures.

Manley said he doesn't have a problem with the city nuisance ordinance, which defines nuisances and outlines a procedure for eliminating them. He said he had a problem with the way the ordinance is enforced.

"If (Splitt) was doing his job, he'd walk up to the door and knock on it. Not walk on the property, go through yards and open car doors," Manley said. "That to me is trespassing."

Splitt said he was following the enforcement procedure outlined in the ordinance and enforcing violations according to the law.

Council members voiced support for the ordinance and the intent of the ordinance. They said they have been told by many groups that in order to promote economic development, the town must be cleaned up.

"If you have a problem with that, I'm sorry. I don't," Mayor Dave DeRose said. "We hear more support to have the town cleaned up than not."

Manley has the option of filing complaints with Ferree or circulating another petition that would change the ordinance.

"Without a paper trail, we as a city council can do nothing about it," DeRose said.

Manley, who represents the Citizens Rights Committee, said he plans to circulate another petition for changes to the ordinance. The code enforcement officer inspects property for violations of the nuisance ordinance when he receives a complaint or sees violations.

Manley would like to restrict inspections to occur only when three or more people who live within a 4-mile radius of the property complain. He would also like the city to establish an appeals board where residents can take their complaints.

Manley threatened the city with a class action lawsuit if the Council did not act upon his request to have Splitt fired, "another American right," Johnston replied.

In other business, the Council:

Appointed United Way Director Corrie Scott, Colorado Northwestern Community College-Craig Associate Dean for Student Services Gene Bilodeau, art teacher Steve Martinson and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Instrument and Controls Technician Mike Hoeland to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board;

Awarded a bid for $2,892.19 for installing de-icing heat cable for City Hall. Ice breaks off the roof of Craig City Hall and hits the side of the building, chipping off the new stucco;

Awarded $3,500 to Advocates-Crisis Support Services for general operations.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 9. Council will hear the first reading of the 2000 budget.

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