Debut Code Inspector Uses Carrots First

January 02, 1991|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — A jovial smile, a pleasant personality and a listening ear get Bart Myers through his job each day.

"You have to listen to people and try to get along with them," said Myers, the city's first code enforcement inspector. "I'd rather try and work out a solution that makes everyone happy rather than writing out fines."

From abandoned vehicles to illegal signs and unkept lawns, Myers follows up on citizen complaints and informs violators of zoning laws.

The municipal infractions are $25 for the first fine. They may go as high as $400 for subsequent violations.

Since his job began in October, Myers has only fined nine people -- eight for abandoned cars and one for a sign erected before the City Council approved it.

"It's pretty much a matter of education," he said. "Pretty much, everyone has been cooperative."

First on Myers' agenda Thursday was a$25 ticket for Linda C. Penn of Main Street. Her Chrysler LeBaron had been sitting without tags in the backyard since he issued a warning Oct. 12.

Ungaraged vehicles that sit for more than 24 hours without license plates, even on private property, are considered a municipal infraction in Westminster, he explained.

Although Myers may write a ticket 15 days after a warning has been issued, he said he oftengives a citizen more time to comply with the request.

"The 15 days is not set in stone," he said. "If they do have a good excuse -- itdoes take a junkyard a couple of weeks to pick up a car -- I let it slide for another week or two."

Most junkyards will pay residents for the car or pick it up for free, he said.

However, in some cases, creative problems need creative solutions.

After noticing a truck without tags on Webster Street, Myers learned they had been removed because the resident's teen-age son was being punished for failing grades.

"It defeats my purpose to put them back on," the mother said, explaining that her son would sneak out in the truck if she left the house on errands.

Looking for a solution, Myers suggested keeping the vehicle covered.

"I'm not in the habit of poking under tarps on people's property," he said. "I'll slip back in a few days and if it's covered, I'll let the matter drop."

In addition to processing abandoned cars, Myers must speak to people about violations of the city solid waste ordinance and trash in their yards.

"The policedid handle some cars and high grass (complaints)," he said. "But as for solid waste and signs, no one's really done that before."

Since the City Council changed the trash ordinance in August, landlords must be reminded they need one can for every apartment and the city will not pick up bulk items, he said.

A city police officer for seven years, Myers handled abandoned cars in addition to his patrol duties for almost a year, he said.

Leaving the city to become an animalcontrol warden last winter, he decided to return after three months when he was approached about the inspector position.

"So far, I enjoy it," he said. "I fit in fairly well, and I think I'm doing a goodjob."

And while many would think his job is a breeze, Myers said it's not that easy -- calling citizens from home and visiting them before hours on occasion.

"I'm busier than most people would imagine," he said. "As the city grows, it will continue to get busier and busier."

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