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Herriman cracks down on code enforcementhires administrative hearing officer

Mar 28, 2017 03:03PM ● Published by Tori LaRue

Herriman’s city council recently approved the hiring of an administrative hearing officer to help keep the city in order. (Herriman City)

By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com

Herriman residents with tall weeds or clutter in their yards could be facing fines after the city council approved citations for code violations and hired an administrative officer to review these claims.

In Herriman, it’s against city code for residents to have weeds taller than 6 inches in their yards, deposit or accumulate dirt or similar materials on the public right of way, keep inoperable vehicles in their yard, park in the roadway during snowy conditions or place their own signage on utility poles. However, these laws are commonly violated, according to city Public Information Officer Tami Moody.

“We used to just talk with people and make requests with people who were in violations with city code, but city leaders started thinking maybe there needs to be a little more depth, a little more meat and potatoes, behind the violation for it to be impactful and create change,” she said.

In addition to giving notice violations, city leaders will now allow code enforcement officials to issue civil citations and fines for noncompliance. Moody said city leaders believe this will allow code enforcement officials to correct problems faster and avoid involving police and other public safety personnel who have more pressing matters.

This ruling came after another on Feb. 8 that allowed animal control officers to issue civil citations for animal violations. Before the Feb. 8 change, officers could only issue verbal warnings or criminal citations relating to animal violations, so the new ordinance gives animal control an intermediate option for violations.

An administrative hearing officer will and hear from residents who have received a citation either from animal control or code enforcement. The hearing officer can adjust a citation as he or she sees requisite.

Herriman officials have hired Greg Christiansen, Taylorsville’s hearing officer, to fill this role. This is an as-needed service, so Christiansen will only be paid if there is a hearing for him to attend.

Christiansen visited Herriman City work meetings to talk with the city council about his position at Taylorsville. He said he’s seen Taylorsville’s community become more beautiful and safer since they started to enforce the code more thoroughly. The code enforcement fines also brought $120,000 to Taylorsville city last year, he said.

Although people may not see the benefit in keeping the community beautiful, Christiansen said the looks of a city go along way in determining property values. Herriman City Councilwoman Nicole Martin said she thinks that’s a valuable reason to enforce city code.

“Your home is your single biggest investment, and it is very frustrating when you are in a neighborhood and you can have one person who has no respect for the ordinance in the city in which they chose to live and by extension it is hurting the property values around them,” she said. “This is not fair and not right. So for me it has little to nothing to do with the money other than the fact that it serves as an incentive for them to do what they should do without the fines.”

Martin continued to say that she thinks creating civil citations for code violations is a good idea because it establishes a standard of living for the city for years to come. Code violation is not a huge issue currently, but creating a culture where people take care of their property will prevent city leaders from needing to adopt harsher policies later, she said.

Christiansen, who has worked with West Valley City on code enforcement in the past, said that city’s main challenge is trying to fix the code violations that have been going on for decades.

“You’ll be driving down the street, and there will be an extremely well-manicured lawns on one street, and then on the next street you feel like you are in some suburb of LA,” Christiansen said about West Valley. “The city is trying, but I think the culture that they created from the beginning is going to be really hard to change. They are doing a great job to try to overcome that, but it is a challenge.”

Herriman is at an optimal time in its lifespan to adopt these code enforcement citations to create a culture for the future, he said.

Mayor Carmen Freeman said he’d like the city staff to look into the city code to discover changes that they could make to catch code mishaps before they become a problem. Code enforcement is likely to be a topic on the council agenda in meetings to come, Moody said. 
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