Hundreds come out for property maintenance code forum
By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer
MONTEVALLO – The Parnell Memorial Library Theater saw a full house at a public forum hosted by the Montevallo City Council Aug. 26, where hundreds of community members came out to voice their concerns about the city’s proposed property maintenance codes. All seats were filled with several standing against the walls of the theater.
Before opening the floor for public comment, Montevallo mayor Hollie Cost assured residents that “decisions have not been made yet,” and the new codes were being considered because of complaints from residents. Cost also said the new codes were being considered because they were “more objective than the currant ordinance.”
“The purpose is to promote public safety and protect property owners,” Cost said.
Concerns were widespread and various. Some residents said they were afraid of how the codes would be enforced, saying they were afraid the code wouldn’t be enforced fairly by the designated code enforcement officer. Others raised concerns about the consequences of not having a building up to code.
“You’re getting fined, and it’s affecting the people who can least afford it,” said Montevallo resident Darlene Smith. “People can’t afford to lose their property.”
Others, like Junnie Craig, were afraid of the document’s length, which is 161 pages according to residents who picked up copies at City Hall.
“I know that most of the minority group has not received information about the code,” Craig said. “You are pushing it on the citizens of Montevallo, and it’s not fair.”
Other residents noted the large number of old buildings in town, saying almost none would pass inspection.
“There’s nothing in town that could pass the scrutiny of this document,” Nathan Stamps said. “My house, your house, City Hall, nothing.”
Still others said they saw the proposed codes as an infringement upon their rights.
“There are a lot of homes that need to be worked on, but it’s not right for you to come in when we’re trying,” resident Kimberly Mahan said. “This is our home and we should be able to live the way we want to live.”
Another resident said he knew they couldn’t officially vote on the matter at the forum, but he said he thought it would be constructive to show the council, by a raise of hands, how they feel. No one raised a hand for the proposed codes, while nearly every hand went up when the resident asked who was against the code.
Cost answered no questions during the forum because she said she wanted to get as much feedback as possible. She said all questions would be answered in writing and distributed at the next city council meeting, which is Sept. 9. She also said the responses would be available online.
“If this is not a good fit for Montevallo, then I can’t see any reason why we would pass it,” Cost said. “I’m one vote, but I think I speak for my council when I say that.”
To get your copy of the proposed codes, visit Montevallo City Hall or Cityofmontevallo.com.