Weatherford Democrat

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October 31, 2013

A code to live by

Enforcement officials say they first try a friendly approach when dealing with residential city code violations

By BRIAN SMITH

High grass, garbage, garage sale signs or vehicles parked illegally in front or side yards are just some of the myriad of neighborhood complaints code enforcement officers deal with, often a thankless job.

“It’s hard to please everyone, that’s for sure,” Weatherford Director of Municipal and Community Services Steve Bates, who is in charge of code enforcement, said with a laugh.

Having to be a watchdog advocate for people and making sure they are following the city’s many codes and ordinances is hard work, Bates contends. He and his officers like to use the “catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” approach when dealing with residents.

“We always try to do a happy medium with residents,” Bates said. “If they are out of compliance on an issue, we want to bring them into compliance, but with a friendly conversation.”

Bates said in 99 out of 100 issues, the resident is unaware of the infraction and corrects it right away, which he said makes everyone’s job a lot easier. On other occasions, no verbal communication is used.

One Weatherford resident, who did not want to be identified, has been trying to get the city to do a more thorough job of citing homeowners throughout the city for junked and improperly parked cars.

Bates said he has been trying to meet with the resident to explain the parking ordinance and listen to concerns which have been expressed not only to Bates but City Manager Jerry Blaisdell and Mayor Dennis Hooks. However, Bates said the complainant hasn’t responded.

“It’s hard to please everyone, but we do try to work with residents in a pleasant manner,” Bates said.

When a code violation is found or reported, officers investigate and contact the resident in violation. He said 90 percent of the time the problem is corrected or removed quickly.

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