By Bill Short
The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has passed an ordinance on final reading that makes the city’s building codes uniform with Shelby County’s.
Board members took the action during their June 9 monthly meeting by a 5-2 vote, with Aldermen Mike Caruthers and Hank Hawkins dissenting.
The ordinance, which became effective yesterday, was passed on first reading at the board’s May 11 meeting.
It states that the board has previously adopted various building code requirements, which are codified in Chapters 1-17 of Title 12 of the Millington Municipal Code.
The board believes it is in the “best interest” of Millington residents to have the city’s building codes uniform with the county’s, and to have inspections conducted by the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Construction Code Enforcement.
Because such functions are covered by user fees that are set by the board, an amendment to the Municipal Code was required.
The ordinance repeals Chapters 1-17 in their entirety, and a new Chapter 1 is established for Title 12.
A new Section 12-101 states that the building, plumbing, electrical, gas and housing codes in effect in the county are also effective within the Millington city limits and will be enforced by county and/or city personnel.
A new Section 12-102 notes that the Office of Construction Code Enforcement periodically establishes fees. Although Millington’s fee will be based on those, it will be multiplied by a factor of 1.33 to cover the costs incurred by both the city and the OCCE.
At the May 11 meeting, on a motion offered by Alderman Chris Ford and seconded by Alderman Bethany Huffman, the board also adopted a resolution approving a “services agreement” between the city and the OCCE.
That motion was also passed by five affirmative votes, with Caruthers dissenting.
The resolution states that the city wishes to use the services of the OCCE for most construction and zoning compliance.
Subject to approval by City Attorney Charles Perkins, either Mayor Terry Jones or City Manager Ed Haley is authorized to execute the services agreement and any related documents.
Perkins said the resolution will also have to be adopted by the county commission.
During discussion at the May 11 meeting, Caruthers said he thinks the city loses a lot of customer service when it turns the code enforcement over to the county.
“It’s very convenient now for our residents to come in and get a permit and to get inspected locally,” he noted. “We need to make it easier on people to do things within the city to help build the city up, not make it more difficult.”
Huffman said she was happy to see that, “in all cases,” there is an “application” at City Hall.
“So, the customer-service piece of it being local at that part still appears to be in place,” she noted. “And it does free up some of our inspectors to enforce other things that we’ve had issues with around the city.”
Perkins noted that, within the next several months, the county will be switching to a system where a permit can actually be obtained online. But he acknowledged that does not address the issue of inspection.
Caruthers said it is very difficult to get the county’s inspectors to “commit to a time.”
“Normally, when you want an inspection, they give you a four-hour window,” he noted. “Sometimes, it’s an all-day window, which is not acceptable if you’re running a business.”
But Perkins said there is more involved than just building inspection. There is also codes enforcement.
He noted that things like vacant buildings will come under the jurisdiction of Environmental Court, where those issues will be heard.
“You have a judicial finding that the owner is not in compliance,” he said. “That removes you a step further if you get into a lawsuit at that point. So, there’s some protection for the city in that.”
When Caruthers said “title work” will still be required, Perkins noted that the city will probably do a “title reference” to determine ownership.
“We’re in the process of doing the 12 now that have been identified,” the city attorney said. “We’ll send them a certified letter and give them so many days to come into compliance. If they don’t, we’ll send them a notice. And, of course, it’ll be published in the paper.”