The city of Richmond could repeal an ordinance in an upcoming meeting this month.
At a board of commissioner’s workshop meeting on Tuesday morning, the city reviewed and discussed repealing their chronic nuisance property ordinance (Ord. 19-14) that imposes a civil fine on hotels and motels that are found to be a consistent problem within the community.
The original ordinance was passed in 2019 after much discussion and had a goal to hinder the recurring negative impact on properties, and in some cases, owners and managers of properties who fail to comply, resulting in a financial burden on the city's law enforcement resources.
However, on Tuesday, the commission heard from Richmond Police Chief Rodney Richardson and City Manager Rob Minerich, who said this ordinance was not helping the problem, and creating more work for the police department.
“Unfortunately this ordinance has not helped us and it has caused a lot of work in the police department and in codes enforcement and really for no reason,” Minerich said. “If there is a call at one of these properties, RPD is going to deal with those individuals anyway and what this ordinance has done is cause a lot of manpower in trying to track these and getting codes enforcement involved with issuing fines and what we have seen over the past two years is it has not helped or made any progress in the problem.”
Chief Richardson said when the ordinance was passed, the reason behind it was a good reason. But over time, Richardson said it really had not changed call response to any of the locations.
He said this ordinance takes more manpower from his force to determine who called in the violation.
“We are still answering calls like we normally would,” the chief began. “But what it does for us is as far as what we have to do at the police department is that the ordinance says that if the manager or owner calls, they are not responsible for it, which is a good thing. But what I have to do is take a records personnel and assign them going through all the calls for service each week.”
He said not only do they look at the calls and match it up with any of the crimes listed on the ordinance, but they have to dig deeper on each call to see if the caller is an employee of the hotel.
“We are really consuming a lot of manpower to get this done, and we have to do it because there is a time restraint that is listed on the ordinance” Richardson said.
Richardson explained that if the manager or owner are complicit or facilitates in the criminal activity then the police would charge that person after an investigation.
“We are covered by statutes for that, so we really don’t need an ordinance to enforce criminal activity or anything that is current on the motel location. So you know, it would really help us a great deal because it really doesn’t help us as far as call response, and we really haven’t seen anything since it has taken effect,” Richardson said.
Richardson said he saw no reason to have the ordinance, because his officers don’t personally use it because they are already enforcing what happens at the hotels by criminal statute.
“I can tell you this. Really, the only thing it is doing for me, right now, is to assign a person to go through every single one of those calls even after we have responded, after we have cited, and after we have charged and arrested someone,” he said.
It was recommended the ordinance be repealed in its entirety.
This ordinance was voted and approved in 2019 by Commissioners Jason Morgan, Ed McDaniel, Mike Brewer, Jacob Grant and Mayor Robert Blythe.
• The entirety of Goggins Lane could be annexed into city limits. A resolution was approved by the Madison County Fiscal Court that would allow all the land to fall under the city of Richmond’s maintenance and ownership. Minerich said this would be helpful for the new property, The Farms at Barnes Mill, which was just recently approved. He also said a new potential property could open on the other end of Goggins Lane.
• The Millstone Festival is still planning to take place on Oct. 9 on Main Street in Richmond. This will be the first annual event which will run from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Main Street will be closed down from Third Street to Collins as early as 6 a.m. There are 70 vendors scheduled with nearly 10 food truck vendors. A beer garden and wine garden will also be included.
• The city is looking to implement a new sidewalk repair plan. This new plan, designed by Communication & Community Development Director Tyler Johnson, would divide the city into six sections, with each section inspected each year to create a list of prioritized needs in the area. Currently, sidewalk maintenance is 50% the responsibility of the homeowner. However, the city stated if the homeowner signed a waiver, the city would incur all of the finances of the sidewalk repair and maintenance. This plan would also allow the city to help build sidewalks where there are not any in areas like Barnes Mill and Irvine Road.