Code Enforcement Initiative In Dalton Gets Results

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Dalton Police Department’s new municipal code enforcement plan has been in place for nearly 60 days and it is already leading to positive changes. So far, the effort has led to the demolition of a dangerous building and officials are working toward the elimination of several others; the department has taken more than 80 reports on code issues and also issued more than 30 notices of violation, the majority of which have been resolved quickly without further action.

The department assigned Officer Chris Cochran to full-time municipal code enforcement duties in early March. The agency also created a new website where residents can submit complaints about properties which might be in violation of city codes. So far, the site has collected approximately 20 complaints.  The majority of complaints have come in by phone.

The new approach to code enforcement led to the destruction of a dangerous building at 931 East Morris Street in April.  The building had been gutted by a fire but was still standing.  The building inspector’s office had served notice on the owners in June 2012 giving 120 days to repair or demolish the structure.  Officer Cochran found that neither had happened and no further action had been taken.  Officer Cochran then issued a citation ordering the property owner to appear in Municipal Court.  On April 17, the court ordered the owner to have the building demolished which was completed by April 30. 

Two other abandoned and dangerous buildings (1120 Ridgeleigh Circle and 910 Avenue C) have also been through the court process and are awaiting demolition.  In all, six citations for dangerous buildings have so far been issued. Other notices of violation have led to action on the part of property owners to remove debris and garbage from lots, remove fences that obstruct views at intersections, and the removal of abandoned vehicles.

“Considering the number of property parcels in the city—about 10,000, and the level of decline in some, I believe the progress so far has been excellent,” said Chief Jason Parker.  “Officer Cochran has been diligently responding to complaints, investigating others on his own, and getting the assistance of other officers.”

The effort is intended not just to maintain property values and community pride but also to have a positive impact on crime prevention. Research suggests that areas where property codes are enforced experience less crime than areas where property is neglected.  The so-called “Broken Windows Theory” states that areas where buildings are allowed to fall into disrepair experience more crime because criminals feel there is less order and residents are less vigilant.  The theory was first put forth by researcher James Q. Wilson in a 1982 article in The Atlantic. In 2005, researchers from Harvard and Suffolk Universities found that when issues such as broken street lamps, litter, building codes were focused on in crime “hot spots” in Lowell Massachusetts, calls for service in those areas fell by 20 percent. 

“The feedback from the community has been mostly positive,” Chief Parker said of the department’s renewed focus on code enforcement. “Most who are concerned would like us to move more quickly; we would like that as well but it will take some time to correct years of decline on some properties.”

Dalton residents who wish to contact the Dalton Police Department with concerns about code enforcement issues in the city can submit a complaint online at www.safedalton.com or by email at code@cityofdalton-ga.gov.  Officer Cochran can be reached at 706 278-9085, ext. 173. 

Dalton’s municipal codes can be found online at www.municode.com.  The sections governing dangerous buildings are 22-421 and 22-422.


Perry Perkins Endorsed By Chattanooga Fire Fighters

The Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association Local 820 has publicly endorsed Perry Perkins for County Commission District 7 in the Republican primary election.  "The Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association is pleased to announce our endorsement of Perry Perkins," said Jack Thompson, president of the Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association. "Perry's community service and experience ... (click for more)

Huey And Cobra Rides Delayed

Due to inclement weather in Atlanta the Huey and Cobra Rides being hosted by the Hixson Flight Museum will be delayed until Sunday at 1 p.m. There will be military vehicle and cockpit tours on Saturday. The rides will take place at the Hixson airport (Dallas Bay Skypark) 1824 E Crabtree Road.  The Museum of Flight provides tours and gives airplane rides in the vintage ... (click for more)

Bus Driver Will Not Face Charges In Tragic Bus Accident

Sergeant Tommy Sturdivan announced in a Friday afternoon press conference that the investigation into the death of six-year-old Zackery Bryant at Chattanooga Valley Elementary has been officially declared complete and that there will be no criminal charges. Zackery died tragically on Monday morning after being hit by a school bus after stepping off. According to Sgt. Sturdivan, ... (click for more)

Soddy Daisy May Begin Effort To Allow Wine In Grocery Stores; Concussion Forms Required For Sporting Events; WWTA Chided For Causing Potholes

The Soddy Daisy Commission is considering taking steps to allow wine in grocery stores now that Tennessee lawmakers have voted to lift restrictions. To have the law appear on the next ballot for a vote, Mayor Janice Cagle said a petition with an amount of signatures totaling 10 percent of the number of voters in the last general election will have to be collected. Commissioner ... (click for more)

State Moving Forward In Educational Improvements

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education released the following statement from President and CEO Jamie Woodson regarding the 2014 legislative session in Tennessee and HB1549/SB1835, which passed the General Assembly Thursday: After a year of extensive public and legislative conversation regarding higher academic standards and related strategies to improve student learning, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Nudge By Angel Kilbride

Way above us, high in the heavens, a handsome angel everybody calls Ben yelled to Saint Peter on Thursday and told him, “Better send me a couple of rubies and maybe an amethyst … Dad’s crown just got bigger.” To you such a scenario may sound silly and foolish but Bill Kilbride, a dynamic genius who has just been named as president-elect of Chattanooga’s Chamber of Commerce, knows ... (click for more)