White Hall's municipal code has been updated with a new chapter on nuisance abatement, covering a wide range of subjects, ranging from overgrown lots to abandoned vehicle and sub-standard structures that fail to meet health and housing codes.

White Hall’s municipal code has been updated with a new chapter on nuisance abatement, covering a wide range of subjects, ranging from overgrown lots to abandoned vehicle and sub-standard structures that fail to meet health and housing codes.

The city’s aldermen unanimously adopted the code revision Monday night during the monthly City Council meeting. City Attorney Tom Owens drafted the proposal in mid-2011 and Mayor Noel Foster told the council in July they could expect the revision to be brought up for consideration in one to two months.

Foster explained at the time that he wanted to review the document, along with Police Chief Richard Wingard, before taking it to the Fire, Police, Park, Ordinance and Personnel Committee for a recommendation to the full council. The panel met March 13 and recommended adoption with an emergency clause.

On Monday Foster said he had asked Owens “to tweak” several elements in the proposal in recent months.

The ordinance gives the municipality authority to clean up property when the owner is unwilling or can’t be located, then place a lien on the property to cover the costs involved.

Police officers can also utilize the ordinance when they offer proof, for example, that property is being used for the sale drugs and other illegal activities.

The new 60-page ordinance repealed Chapter 92 dealing with health and sanitation and Chapter 98, which involved nuisance abatement and property maintenance of the existing code.

City code enforcement officers, including police officers, can enforce provisions of the codes. Foster told last week’s committee meeting that the city must hire a full-time code enforcement and inspector.

The ordinance provides for a fine not to exceed $250 a day for violating provisions of the ordinance.

It gives the city the authority to revoke licenses and permits issued by the city to prohibit use of structures that pose a danger to the health and welfare of the public, threaten the safety of any citizen and lacks compliance with state licensing laws and requirements.

Other measures defined by the ordinance:

– The council can condemn structures for non-compliance after a public hearing and have the structures destroyed and removed;

– Sanitation issues include the allowed height of grass and weeds (eight-inches), the harboring of rodents, swimming pools and hot tubs, allowing rubbish and garbage to accumulate, insect infestation;

– Address numbers must be a minimum of six-inches high, occupancy limitations are established with square footage requirements, toilet requirements, water and plumbing standards and drainage;

– Mechanical and electrical requirements, fire safety, eliminating conditions that might become breeding places for insects;

– Seven days written notice is required to correct many violations, including the removal of inoperable vehicles, grass and weeds, basketball goals on public streets;

– Abandoned property, unsafe structures, structures unit for human occupancy, with code enforcement authorized to shut off utility services.

Foster said the ordinance is not an infringement on property rights, but a method to protect the health and safety of the public, in addition to eliminating eyesores.