Thursday, November 13, 2003
To dozens of Oak Creek residents, and even to the Oak Creek police, the town's nuisance code has become something of a nuisance itself. Town Trustee John Crawford initiated a discussion on the nuisance ordinances, which were revised along with the town's code in 2000. Last month, Crawford was ticketed for an accumulation of rubbish -- including an old refrigerator -- in his yard. He has a summons to appear before a judge who will determine if the situation warrants a fine. Nuisances that town officials enforce include violations of snow removal and parking restrictions during the winter, and weeds, trash and loose dogs in the summer. In an average month, officers said they write about a half dozen tickets.
Crawford said he thought several parts of the ordinances did not make sense. First was the requirement that vehicles have up-to-date registration. Vehicles must be insured to be registered. Mayor Cargo Rodeman said she had to get rid of her white car, "Lily," because she couldn't afford to insure it along with her newer car.
Second, Crawford said he thought that when a person made a complaint, he or she should be required to list allegations so police officers don't have to search for nuisances.
Town Trustee Mike Kien said he also disagrees with parts of the ordinances, including the definition of a "nuisance" as something that does "substantially annoy, injure or endanger the comfort, health, repose or safety of the public."
"Substantially annoy," Kien said. "Who's opinion? ... These things are too subjective. You can't enforce something like that because it means everything (can be) a nuisance."
Oak Creek Police Chief Tim Willert said he and his staff were working to enforce the code because that's what the town hired them to do. But, he said, he thinks the code should be more specific and less open to individual interpretations.
"I think the ordinances need to be more clear for both the citizens and the law enforcement so we know what we're enforcing," Willert said after the meeting.
Once a complaint is received, officers check it out and talk with the resident, then issue a warning. After a week or so, if no action is taken, they write a ticket.
Rodeman listened to complaints about the ordinances from other board members and from the public and then said that people who wanted the rules changed should sit down and write out their suggestions. The town's police officers and code enforcement staff already are working to draft a revised set of ordinances that are clear to everyone.
In other business:
n The town trustees rejected a proposed ordinance to allow snowmobiles on town streets because of information they received Wednesday from the Routt County Board of County Commissioners. County commissioners pointed out that snowmobiles are not allowed on county roads, and since town residents would have to travel on county roads to access public land, there would be no point in allowing snowmobile use in town.
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