Archive for Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Rules versus Rights

Residents, city officials at odds over code violation notices

August 7, 2002

A directive from the City Council to the city codes department was clear clean up Basehor.

Make it more aesthetically pleasing. Mail out notices to those in violation. Tell them to clean up their mess. Whoever doesn't comply gets sent to municipal court.

"The bottom line is to try and make the city look good," City Council member Chris Garcia said.

The codes department had marching orders from council members. Council members got their cues from residents' complaints.

During two July meetings, several residents came forward and complained about neighboring properties on 155th Street.

The codes department acted more than 80 violation notices were sent out.

The notices have some residents stewing.

For six years, a dark blue Dodge pickup truck has sat in Bert Mitchell's driveway at 3232 156th Terr.

In that time, Mitchell and his two sons have worked to restore the vintage automobile.

They looked for original parts. Finding them proved tough.

The truck is listed as a 1951 model. Mitchell and his boys found it was actually manufactured in 1947.

The restoration is taking time.

The Mitchells wanted to make the truck look good. They wanted to enter the truck in future city parades.

However, Mitchell received a notice in July saying the truck was in violation of city ordinance.

Since he's owned the truck, he has never spoken to anyone from City Hall concerning his Dodge, Mitchell said.

"The first damn thing I knew about it was the letter," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the truck is licensed and has insurance and registration. The truck runs "it has a good motor in it," Mitchell said.

City Codes administrator Mike Hooper defended the truck being flagged for the violation.

"It had some grass growing around it and at least one flat (tire)," Hooper said. "It had the appearance it hadn't been moved."

Hooper said Mitchell has options in dealing with the violation he can drive the truck to City Hall to prove it's operable or he can store it inside a garage.

The violation would be removed in either case, he said.

Mitchell can also appeal to the City Council.

However, Mitchell won't pursue either option.

"We're not appealing nothing," he said.

"We know what that appeal is; that's a kangaroo court. You don't ever get no results," he added.

Mitchell has retained an attorney. He and other residents plan to fight the city on the code violations.

"It's a bad situation when the citizens of this community have to get an attorney to protect their rights," he said.

"It's going to get hot. It's going to get hotter than hell," Mitchell said.

Like Mitchell, Basehor resident Bob Wiley also received violation notices.

The city said the Rose Room on 155th Street was in code violation for tractors and trailers located in a lot behind the building.

Wiley said he plans to work with City Hall on shoring up the property. Wiley also said he wasn't happy about his property being cited for violations.

"They're not taking into consideration what's been there since it was a town," Wiley said.

Wiley purchased the Rose Room in 1984. Since then, the property has improved, he said.

"It certainly looks better than when I bought it," he said. "But that doesn't seem to suit everybody.

The situation boils down to city codes versus the rights of property owners.

Garcia said city officials and residents should be able to find common ground on the code violations and work together to solve the problem.

"There's some flexibility," Garcia said. "If people are willing to work with us, we're willing to work with them."

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