Your Liberty is Our Interest

Ordinance 15 Proposal: Boone County’s Shame

 

by Michael Butler

Tuesday, January 5 saw several hundred citizens of Boone County sit in on the meeting of the Fiscal
Court in order to discuss the proposed Ordinance 15 which would create a Code Enforcement Board for
all unincorporated areas of Boone County. Due to the outcry at this meeting, Judge Executive Gary
Moore has postponed the vote on Ordinance 15 until it has been redrafted. However, this proposal
should be dismissed and never be allowed to reappear.

Ordinance 15 contains fundamentally terrible ideas, will drive away residents, will not solve the problem
of complaints, and will cost Boone County money.

The Code Enforcement Board that Ordinance 15 seeks to create will serve as a court capable of fining,
placing liens, and issuing orders to enforce the property maintenance, zoning, and parking, stopping &
standing codes. Section 1 of Ordinance 15 makes virtually every Boone County official or employee a
Code Official with the ability to cite citizens for violations at whim while Section 105.2 states “code
official shall have the authority to appoint a deputy(s) . . . to enforce . . . this code.” So, each official can
deputize whomever they wish and give them full authority to enforce this ordinance. The codes that
these officials will enforce range from the ludicrous Section 204.3 mandate that house numbers be
either prominently displayed on your house or on the curb directly in front (not on your mailbox) to the
nebulous Section 204.18 order that “Doors . . . for dwelling units . . . be provided with devices designed
to provide security.” A common sense reading of these sections reveals that whichever of the legions of
Code Officials next visits your home will decide if you’re in violation of the Ordinance because these
requirements are subjective—does the security section require you to have a lock, bullet resistant
sheeting, a subscription with ADT, or all three?

We haven’t even looked at the property rights violations found in Ordinance 15, yet. A few examples:
Section 106.3 “whenever the code official has reasonable cause to believe that there exists in a
structure or upon a premises a . . . violation of this code, the code official shall be authorized to enter
the structure or premises.” Ordinance 15 also authorizes Code Officials to disconnect your utilities
(108.2.5), remove “discarded” items (108.3.3), demolish your buildings (202.3.1), and modify the code
to serve their needs (106.7).

All these egregious property rights violations will drive away Boone County residents. I’m a fourth-
generation resident of Boone County who never wanted to leave until hearing of Ordinance 15. If this
ordinance is passed, Boone County will not be my future children’s home. If Ordinance 15 will drive me
who am so deeply connected to Boone County away, it will surely dissuade people from moving here
and drive away all current residents who cannot stomach the notion that government bureaucrats can
tell them how to use their own property.

According to Matthew Webster, an Assistant County Administrator, Ordinance 15 was written to deal
with the 6,658 complaints of unkempt properties the county has received since 2007. However, the
poorly-defined standards adopted by this ordinance will significantly increase the number of complaints
because virtually every standard can be interpreted several ways to forbid virtually everything. For
example, Section 202.7 states “Structures and exterior property shall be kept free from rodent

harborage.” Guinea pigs and hamsters are rodents, so this section can be read as forbidding you from
“harboring” your pet hamster.

Ordinance 15 punishes 99.3% of Boone County residents in order to appease .7% of the residents.
Assuming that the 6,658 complaints were spread equally throughout the eight year period of 2007-15,
only seven tenths of one percent of Boone residents have complained per year. Even if all of the
complaints occurred in one year, only 5% of private citizens complained in the year. These calculations
assume that each complaint came from a different person; obviously this is a faulty assumption because
many of the complainants called multiple times. Why does the Fiscal Court want to punish and fine over
99% of Boone citizens in order to cater to the whims of a very few people?

Finally, Ordinance 15 will cost Boone County money. Between the lost revenue from departing current
residents and potential new residents who go elsewhere because of the egregious property rights
violations in Ordinance 15 and the costs of enforcing this Ordinance, the cost to Boone County will be
staggering. After all, each complaint will require, at minimum, a visit to the property at county expense.
Further, because of the liens and fines, the poorer members of our community will likely be forced into
foreclosure by this Ordinance. Perhaps most distressingly, the fines imposed by this ordinance showcase
the idea that you are not the owner of your own property because, even when you think you’re the sole
owner, government can arbitrarily charge you money for not using your property the “correct” way.

Therefore, I urge you, fellow citizen, to contact the members of the Fiscal Court and urge them to bury
this laughably impractical piece of legislation so deeply that Boone County can soon hide her shame for
having considered it.

–Michael Butler is a concerned fourth-generation resident of Boone County.

January 13th, 2016 at 12:35 pm


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