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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Temple Terrace seeks to increase code enforcement standards

TEMPLE TERRACE — The Temple Terrace City Council is seeking to tighten neighborhood preservation regulations to make it tougher for property owners who violate the city’s code enforcement ordinance.

The city council said it supports a recommendation by Code Compliance Director Joe Gross to bump up the city’s code enforcement from minimum to moderate standards.

The city staff has been working on a plan for months to close loopholes that have allowed property owners to make only minimum improvements to deteriorating properties to avoid tougher penalties.

Plans are underway to have a revised code enforcement ordinance ready for a first reading by the end of the year, Gross said.

In the meantime, the city will begin a marketing campaign to increase public awareness about the code enforcement changes.

Gross is proposing changes based on comments the council members made at a July 16 workshop, he said.

Changes will include requiring fire hydrants, sprinklers and making sure property addresses are visible to aid firefighters.

The ordinance will stipulate minimum housing codes be established for utilities, roofs and walls, and maintenance. It also will address storage and clutter.

The ordinance would require property owners to have active water, sewer and power services. Vegetation, weeds or vines on roofs or walls would not be allowed. Garage doors, chimneys, awnings and screens would need to be properly maintained.

The changes would modify the standard for overgrown lawns, lowering it from 18 inches to 12 inches.

The ordinance also would address the public nuisance intervention authority, update accessory structures such as storage units, sidewalk and curb edging and expand use of court citations.

It would clarify rules for vehicle screening and refine provisions for inoperable vehicles. Provisions for fertilizer and landscape maintenance, expand fence standards and curbside trash can storage would also be modified.

The council members said they liked the proposed language changes and offered a few others.

Councilman Grant Rimbey asked Gross to consider language to regulate clutter under carport structures. Rimbey also had a preference for aluminum, steel or masonry fencing instead of wooden fences, an idea opposed by Councilwoman Alison Fernandez.

Councilman David Pogorilich proposed better maintenance of gravel and a look at colors that could be used.

Resident Jack Ritter, who previously served as chairman of the Temple Terrace Municipal Code Enforcement Board, urged that new regulations address unkept fences and prevent residents from encroaching on the right of way.

Municipal code enforcement board member Andy Ross, who also serves on the River Watch Task Force, asked that the new language require owners of riverfront properties to post address so they will be visible from the water to assist Marine officers and other law enforcement officials patrolling the Hillsborough River.

Temple Terrace is following in Tampa’s footsteps to toughen enforcement of municipal code violations. Tampa officials are focusing mostly on chronic code violators. Gross said repeat violators are not a significant problem in Temple Terrace.

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