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Panel completes ordinance review

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Posted: Sunday, June 8, 2008 12:00 pm | Updated: 5:02 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Joshua Winata

Killeen Daily Herald

COPPERAS COVE – The city's code enforcement ordinance review committee, commissioned by the City Council to make the ordinances more "user friendly," presented its completed recommendations to the City Council on Tuesday.

The proposed revisions were designed to be more "understandable for the citizen and easier for officers to enforce," said Deputy Fire Chief Robert O'Dell, who oversees code enforcement.

Ordinances concerning parking on the grass and other unfinished surfaces received the biggest overhaul. The issue has been in the forefront of the ordinance review because of difficulty with enforcement.

In January, the City Council split over the decision to place a moratorium on enforcing the ordinance in a 2-4 vote. Councilmen Ray Don Clayton and Fred Harris argued that trying to restrict off-street parking was a waste of code enforcement officers' time, and a moratorium would allow the city to gauge the impact of the ordinance.

"I didn't want anyone to get any tickets or anything like that until this ordinance was perfected. I have felt strongly about that," Clayton said at the Jan. 15 workshop.

Other council members cited aesthetic, environmental or safety reasons for keeping the ordinance in place.

The committee had a difficult time deciding on what to change as well.

"We really tried to change things, put things in and tweak it, and we kind of got to a stalemate," O'Dell said.

The entire section was eventually rewritten based on ordinances from neighboring cities. Building Official Scott Wallace said he spoke with several officials, most notably from the city of Farmers Branch near Dallas, to come up with the current proposal, which goes into greater detail than the original ordinance.

The ordinance does prohibit parking vehicles on the grass in the front lawn, but does allow for vehicles in screened-in rear yards. It also allows the city to require residents to put in pavement if a large vehicle like an RV or a boat is causing damage to the yards.

"There's a lot of flexibility here, but I think it achieves its purposes about trying to maintain the surfaces of our yards and also allowing those folks to utilize their backyards," Wallace said.

Clayton still questioned the viability of the ordinance to meet the needs of all types of neighborhoods, especially ones in more rural areas with large lots.

Committee members, however, assured that those matters can be considered on an individual basis.

"There is some leniency. The Chief Building Official has the final authority to grant some kind of waiver or not," O'Dell said. "Most of this is talking specifically about residential property in the city."

The section on rodent control also received considerable attention, requiring regular maintenance, allowing inspections and tightening regulations on food storage. The committee also updated ordinances concerning high grass and weeds, outdoor storage, temporary signage and smoking restrictions.

The city staff now will take a look at the recommendations and continue to tweak them before they go before the council for approval, City Attorney James Thompson said.

For a complete look at the proposed revisions to the city's code of ordinances, contact City Hall at (254) 547-4221.

Contact Joshua Winata at jpwinata@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476.

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