Code enforcement

Code enforcement staff reviews plans as part of the process to determine if a project is in violation of county rules and regulations.

What is the most common complaint the county’s code enforcement specialists see in northern Gila County? Building without a permit.

In the first nine months of the year, there were 89 building permit complaints in northern Gila County. That is followed by 21 complaints for a fire hazard; 17 for junk; 15 for living in an RV; 11 use violations; six for inoperable vehicles; five for dilapidated or unsafe structures; four for pigs; three for roosters; three for other; two for light ordinance; and two for wastewater.

Compared to the Globe area, northern Gila County sees many more building complaints. The biggest complaint in the Globe area? Junk.

Types of complaints registered in the Globe area included 35 for junk; 21 for fire hazard/weeds; seven for no building permit; seven use violations; six wastewater; three for dilapidated or unsafe structures; and two inoperable vehicles.

The Gila County Board of Supervisors heard, on Nov. 17, an update about its Community Development Department’s code enforcement activities.

Department director Scott Buzan made the presentation to the BOS.

The Gila County Community Development Department handles planning and zoning, building safety, code enforcement, and wastewater.

He explained, “Code enforcement is the prevention, detection, investigation, and enforcement of violations of adopted codes and ordinances regulating public nuisance, public health, safety and welfare, business activities, building standards, and land use.”

Buzan said the mission is to protect the public’s health and safety, property values, and the environment by ensuring compliance with ordinances, policies, codes, rules, regulations, and permits approved by the Gila County Board of Supervisors and within the limits of state and federal laws.

Code enforcement/compliance specialists have a full plate: they must enforce the Gila County outdoor light, wastewater and zoning ordinances, building codes, and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality rules.

The department has two code enforcement/compliance specialists who work closely with Building Safety, Planning and Zoning, Wastewater, Floodplain, Grading and Drainage, and the County Attorney’s Office, and an approved collection agency. The hearing officer, who rules on code enforcement issues, is an independent contractor.

Buzan’s report to the BOS covered activities during the first nine months of 2020:

• 242 complaint cases opened.

• Average of 4.6 days to verify complaint after receipt; goal is seven days.

• 232 complaint cases closed.

• 104 active complaints at the end of September 2020.

• 13% or 31 cases heard by the hearing officer.

• $20,800 in fines awarded to Gila County.

• $19,812 in fines paid including $400 from collection agency.

• Code Compliance Specialist Rebecca Borowski, through a scholarship, is attending virtually the Southwest Leadership Program through Eller Executive Education at the University of Arizona.

Buzan told the BOS of his department’s future plans for code enforcement:

• Promote swift compliance for dried weed complaints. Code enforcement hearings will be held every month from March through May to reduce the number of days before a violator is to appear in front of the hearing officer.

• Staff is determining which properties are suitable for the clean and lean program.

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