Monticello Council discusses code enforcement

Code Enforcement, and cleanups were among the many topics discussed at the October 26 meeting of the Monticello City Council.

Members of the council and city staff spent considerable time at their latest meeting discussing how best to address properties with excessive piles of metal, tires, wood, vehicles, and other junk in their yards.

While council members identified a few general areas with this type of issue, the item was brought to the council agenda by a complaint from a resident in the southeast portion of town. 

While the city has issued warnings and citations of approximately $50, there are plans to rewrite the city code so there are more penalties to enforce codes.

The city could escalate fines to amounts higher than $50, and at the furthest end of penalties the city could get a judicial order to clean a property and send the property owner a bill for the cleanup.

While the option exists for a judicial order, City Attorney Alex Goble admits it’s a balancing act to enforce harsher penalties.

“You’re dealing with the fact that you’ve just made that resident really mad and there’s three options they can go,” said Goble. “They’ll just start collecting junk again and you didn’t really solve the problem.

“They can get really bitter at their neighbors and it starts causing criminal problems because they’re trying to get back to their neighbors.

“Or they say thanks for cleaning it up. I can tell you which one is least likely of the options.”

Goble says the best way to address the issue early is to go through a community association that has a good relationship with the individual who can gather some people to help in the cleanup.

“Then it’s free, nobody’s mad, nobody’s dragging to court and all of that,” said Goble. “So we can all get angry but if there’s somebody who’s got a good relationship that can broach that topic, that’s usually the best way to go.”

The council did not vote on the issue but general consensus seems to be that the city should begin issuing warning citations ahead of potential harsher penalties, in hopes of mobilizing cleanup efforts across properties in town.

At their October 26 meeting, the council also discussed cleaning up their own properties, especially at Loyds Lake, where complaints of trash and dirty bathrooms have persisted for several months.

With garbage canisters often full at the lake and trash and dog waste often on trails, the council talked about solutions for maintenance of the Loyds Lake trail.

Councilwoman Kim Henderson suggested a cleanup day at the lake once or twice a year, with a raffle or other incentives to encourage participation. 

City Manager Evan Bolt reports that the Elementary School had cleaned the city ball fields in the fall and that in the future the school may be willing to help clean up the lake in the fall, while the city may host an event in the spring.

Athletic teams at the high school and church youth groups were also suggested as possible sources of volunteer clean up labor.

The council touched on a wide variety of topics at the meeting, including a brief discussion about Bears Ears National Monument.

Henderson suggested the city send a letter to Utah Governor Spencer Cox encouraging him to follow through with a lawsuit opposing the monument designation.

In other matters, council member Nathan Chamberlain suggested the city look at defining job responsibilities of city employees to help with employment reviews. 

Bolt also updated the council on projects in the city that are being interrupted by supply chain issues. Bolt reports that a microchip needed for the city swimming pool is still on backorder, as is equipment needed to repair speed limit signs on the north end of town.

Additionally, the city welcome sign on the north end of town is still in need of repairs almost a year after it was damaged as the city deals with the insurance company of the vehicle that damaged the sign.

The council also received updates from Bolt on city plans to fill crossing guard and visitor center positions, as well as fill open positions on the city planning commission.

The city made plans to start soliciting nominations for the annual Citizen of the Year award. Last year, the award was presented to Michelle Sonderegger.

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