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Monday, May 2, 2016

City hires police veteran as new code enforcement officer

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Storm Lake Police Captain Bob Swanson's plans to "retire" in November didn't last long. Swanson has been hired to start work as the new city code enforcement officer, a longtime goal for the city, only a matter of days after he hangs up his badge.

The hire is part of a long-planned city effort to upgrade and protect the safety and appearance of property in the city.

After numerous study sessions and much research from the city staff, the city council will soon be asked to consider passing an ordinance dealing with property issues.

The proposed plan addresses issues from maintaining old store fronts to paint on buildings on citizen's homes.

"Within our code we had ordinances in different areas but this will combine them together," Storm Lake City Administrator Patti Moore said.

The City Council had a study session Monday night to discuss the last two issues for the plan - dealing with parking of cars on the front lawns of homes, and paint on houses.

"It was a team effort," Moore said. "Every department that was involved had major input. They were talking to their peers in different communities. There was a lot of time and effort spent on this."

The process has taken about two years, according to Moore.

"This has taken a little longer then we would have liked but there will be some major changes and it was worth taking some time to discuss the issues," Moore said.

"I think that we owe it to the new council that we have this finished and we need to stay here as long as it takes to get it done," Council Member Denny Vaudt said Monday night going into the session.

Sessions varied in length from two hours to as long as four hours with city employees and the council discussing the proper wording to be used in the ordnance proposal.

Public Safety Director Mark Prosser and Scott Oleson of the city staff led the discussions. Council members had to set definitions for words like "debris" and "driveway" as well as consider penalties for residents and property owners who do not comply.

The city staff will draft a proposal and will look to pass it with three readings. According to Moore, citizens will have time to give their input to the council.

"This council has generally waiting for three consecutive meetings to pass an ordnance unless there was need for urgency or other reasons," Moore said. "I would hope that the community would take an interest in this because it can personally affect them."

According to Moore, citizens shouldn't be worried about tickets being hand out on the first day.

"There will be a time to educate the community on the changes and so they are able to make changes themselves," Moore said. "We won't be out there ready to give tickets from the start."

Swanosn, as the new code enforcement officer, will also spend time with inspections as well as code enforcement.

He will begin work in his new role in late November or early December.

Moore said enforcement of the new ordinance will mostly be complaint driven.

"The City is very large and he won't be able to just drive around all the time looking," Moore said.

Moore is not worried about a person who is ticketed filing complaints against the city.

"There has been talk about that happening, but I really don't think it will become an issue," Moore said.

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