03/16/05 — City citation policy irks appearance panel

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City citation policy irks appearance panel

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 16, 2005 1:49 PM

Members of the Goldsboro Appearance Commission expressed frustration Tuesday at a report that showed the city has not given citations to people with unsightly properties in almost a year.

Commission members called the report another sign that city officials don't support them.

"How can we get anything done when we don't have anyone working with us?" asked Mary Rhoe.

Donald Callahan said that he has called the city's code enforcement officers "500 times" about trash in streets and on properties, only to be told later that they couldn't locate it.

"I would be looking at something in the middle of the street, and they would say they couldn't find it," Callahan said. "What in the world are we paying our enforcers for?"

But Commission Chairman Gary Smithwick asked the board to be patient. He noted the city has a new manager, Joe Huffman, and some new City Council members.

"It seems like they have a different attitude toward nuisances," Smithwick said.

Smithwick and other commission members plan to meet with Huffman to talk about renewing efforts to clean up Goldsboro.

During the City Council's annual retreat last week, it was revealed that the city stopped issuing citations in May 2004 to people who repeatedly refuse to comply with rules and regulations. Then-manager Richard Slozak reportedly halted the practice because of problems collecting fines and other complaints.

The council members want to resume citations and increase fines to a maximum of $250 per offense per day for repeat offenders.

But Simonne Cato, director of Keep Wayne County Beautiful, said that the council and Slozak had also talked tough about trash during the 2004 retreat.

"They were going to fine people and issue citations and revamp the notification process," she said. "Now we're going on two years and no action has been taken."

The city is preparing a new approach on enforcement, planner Darryl Best said. "We are looking at these issues."

He continued, "You seem to be attacking the city. ... I would ask you to focus on what can the commission do to make the appearance better."

Callahan said that he didn't mean his remarks as an attack but as an expression of his frustration with the status quo.