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Wednesday, Sep. 3, 2014

Bearden: Proposal would have big impact on those who rent property

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Blytheville city attorney Mike Bearden believes a proposal on the City Council's table will have a major impact on rental properties in Blytheville.

The Council has read the proposed ordinance once, and Bearden has suggested the board read it the three required times over three meetings to allow for input from local landlords.

"This is my opinion, most of the upper income rental property, which there is not a lot of in this town, would already meet these specifications," Bearden said. "There is a lot of existing lower income rental properties that do not meet this and probably don't meet any of it -- that's my guess. I don't know that."

He called the proposal "a major piece of legislation."

"It's more far-reaching than people know," Bearden added. "That's why I felt like it needed to be read over three meetings so people will know. They can have a chance to talk against it, if they want to."

If passed the ordinance would require doors, windows and all outside openings of habitable rooms and food preparation and consumption areas to have tightly fitting screens of minimum 16 mesh-per-inch and screen doors used for insect control must have a working self-closing device. The exceptions for screens would be if there are approved air curtains or insect repellent fans employed.

The proposed ordinance would also require the owner to furnish heat to the occupants during a six-month period from November through April and maintain a minimum temperature of 68 degrees in all habitable rooms, bathrooms and toilet rooms.

One exception is when the outdoor temperature is below the winter outdoor design temperature for the locality, though the heating system must be operating at its full design capacity. The other exception is when the average monthly temperature is above 30 degrees, a minimum temperature of 65 degrees shall be maintained. Indoor occupiable work spaces must be supplied with heat from November through April and maintain a minimum temperature of 65 degrees during that time, unless it is used for items requiring cooling or it's an area used primarily for vigorous physical activities, the proposal says.

The proposal would also require the properties to be maintained free of weeds that exceed 10 inches.

"Upon failure of the owner or agent having charge of the property to cut and destroy weeds after service of notice of violation, they shall be subject to prosecution...," the proposed ordinance reads.

It says if the city has to mow the property, the owner or agent would be responsible for the costs.

The proposal also says, if the owner makes modifications, he must abide by the code unless code enforcement finds a special reason for the strict letter of the code to be impractical and the project doesn't lessen health, life and fire safety requirements.

A copy of the proposed ordinance is available at the city clerk's office.

mbrasfield@couriernews.net

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