Danedri Thompson
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Twenty-one pages of updated codes will replace what was once a one-page, single-sided Gardner ordinance on property codes and enforcement.
Jim Sherman, city codes enforcer, told city council members that the ordinance council members passed replaces outdated language.
“Everything is open to interpretation under the old code,” Sherman said.
The new code includes everything from right of entry for properties with suspected violations for city employees to the use of barbeque grills.
For example, the new code reads, “Any public officer shall be allowed to enter onto any land within the city limits to investigate or abate violations of this Title.”
Violations include:
• inoperable vehicles
• not shoveling ice and snow within 48 hours of a snow storm
•  excessive accumulation of animal waste
•  loose or rotting shingles
•  chipped paint
• cracked windowpanes
• missing boards on outbuildings or garages
• buckling fences
• accumulation of trash debris
Those found in violation could be fined or have liens placed on their property.
Council member Kristina Harrison was the only member of the council to oppose the ordinance.
She asked council members if they had received any communications from residents supportive of the ordinance as a whole.
“No,” Mayor Dave Drovetta said. “I have not received anything saying this is great. What I have received are complaints about people with broken windows, doors hanging off houses… I don’t think anything in here is onerous.”
One resident voiced her concerns about the property code updates before council members debated the issue.
“If you’re in my yard and decide I have too much (dog) poop, get out,” resident Vivian Thompson said.
She also worried that the codes would be enforced selectively.
Council member Brian Broxterman said he also had not received any feedback from anyone who liked all of the new codes.
But the likelihood of getting total buy-in from all people is astronomical, he said.
Harrison said a few citizens have asked her to get involved with some individual complaints.
“I struggle with trying to dictate and in some cases, subjectively, what people can do with their property,” she said.
Steve Hale said the new codes will help Gardner grow in a manner that people expect.
“There are a certain set of standards that people expect,” Hale said.
Harrison said it could just as easily be argued that people moved to Gardner because the property codes aren’t as stringent as they are in other parts of Johnson County.
The city staff promised the enforcement of the new codes will be complaint driven, and Hale said that is a very positive thing.
Sherman said the ordinance allows city code officials to enforce the codes themselves, but he assured the council that they would only be enforced as complaints are received.
Since Jan. 1, community development officials said they have received approximately 48 complaints.
Harrison also asked Jim Hubbard, city attorney, to discuss whether the snow removal provisions adequately protect the city’s liability.
Hubbard explained that all cities in the metro area have similar provisions.
Gardner’s, however, are much more stringent than in many other communities.
For example, Overland Park has a resolution “encouraging” people to maintain their sidewalks, but doesn’t ticket. In Olathe, there is not a time requirement. Instead, the code says it is “the duty” of the homeowner to clear sidewalks of snow and ice, but the remedies are rarely enforced. Other cities, like Lee’s Summit, Mo., do not have sidewalk clearing regulations at all.
Gardner’s new code say, “It shall be unlawful for the owner and/or occupant of any property abutting one or more public sidewalks to tail to cause to be removed from such sidewalks all snow and ice within 48 hours from the time the snow or ice storm ends.”
City properties are exempted from the regulation.