July 2, 2013

City council passes stricter code rules

Parking on lawns fails to pass and abandoned vehicles proposal tabled.

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — Logansport City Council passed half of the proposed measures creating new rules for code enforcement Monday, putting in place more stringent regulations and consequences for weed removal and garbage while voting against prohibiting parking on green space and saving an ordinance regarding abandoned vehicles for another day.

The unanimously passed weed removal ordinance states lawns and weeds must be kept at 8 inches and that property owners have seven days to remedy a violation upon being notified. Prairie and decorative grasses common in parks and along trails throughout the city are excluded from these rules.

After discussing this ordinance in a public works and safety committee meeting last month, the council voted in favor of decreasing fines established in a previous draft from $75 to $50 for a first offense and $125 to $100 for a second.

The ordinance also authorizes the city’s code enforcement officer to pursue a search warrant to enter a property to investigate a complaint that may lead to a violation of this ordinance that can’t be seen from the street. The ordinance goes on to elaborate that this search must be “limited to the places pertinent to the complaint.”

“The code enforcement officer wouldn’t have the authority to toss your bedroom,” said Logansport city attorney Randy Head.

Also passing unanimously were amendments to the city ordinance pertaining to garbage, trash and yard waste. Those who have violated the ordinance a second time by leaving garbage, yard waste, furniture and/or other items in their lawn are now subject to one seven-day notice to remedy the situation and if it is disregarded, the city can order a cleanup on the property.

Prohibiting the discarding of hazardous material and electronics was also added to the ordinance.

In a narrow 3-4 vote, the council opted against an ordinance that would have prohibited parking on lawns and green space.

“I think the city itself has trouble complying with this ordinance as written,” said Councilman Bob Bishop, who before voting against the measure spoke of the frequent parking on green space at city parks.

Councilman Gary Fox agreed with Bishop, calling the ordinance “too restrictive.”

Councilman Jeremy Ashcraft expressed his support for the ordinance by describing the safety hazards that occur when people drive over curbs and sidewalks, destroying them over time.

Chris Armstrong, Logansport Community Development director, reiterated the interpretation of the ordinance she has made at previous public meetings on the matter — that it addresses habitual offenders and not those who may park on green space temporarily.

An ordinance that would enforce the insuring and licensing of all visible vehicles was tabled.

Before voting to delay a final say on the matter, the council passed an amendment allowing for an exception to these rules for students away at college. The ordinance grants the same to those on military leave.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or