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Tougher Code Regulations Coming Soon

The Gulfport City Council voted to require residents to move trash cans back from the curb and to ban indoor furniture from being put outside.

The first of several ordinances drafted to improve the city's "curb appeal" was discussed and voted on during Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

It was the next step in an effort to "increase the aesthetic appearance and curb appeal of the property," as noted in the agenda packet.

Though both ordinances were only up for first reading, Council members brought up important points and discussed their intent in moving forward with tougher, more restrictive ordinances.

The Council is addressing code enforcement and nuisance ordinances two at a time.

On Tuesday, Jan. 3, during the first meeting of 2012, four council members tackled ordinances that:

  • State where residents can store trash cans;
  • Prohibit indoor furnishings from being stored outside.

Trash Can Placement

Ordinance 2012-01, which affects trash can placement, was passed with a vote of 3-1, with Council member Sam Henderson casting the only no vote. Mayor Mike Yakes was absent due to illness.

This ordinance requires residents to remove containers "from curbside of the property on the day of collection and place in the side or rear yard and behind the front of the primary structure."

Several questions and concerns came up during the discussion. Council member Jennifer Salmon recommended changing the words to read and require residents to place containers a certain distance from the curb, but not necessarily behind the "front of the primary structure."

“I would just like for there to be some latitude where people put their garbage can, at least so many feet from the curb or behind an opaque fence," Salmon said.

Council member Sam Henderson, who voted no, said that he does not want to tell people where they can put their trash cans.

Vice Mayor David Hastings added during discussion that he did not want to "table this. It’s a uniform place, it’s behind the front line of the house."

Although city leaders agreed the wording can be somewhat confusing, the group decided to vote rather than delay the ordinance or send it to a workshop. The ordinance wording is meant to require residents to place the cans on the side or behind the house, as long as it is located "behind the front" of the house.

Does this affect cans in alleys? City Attorney Andrew Salzman said the ordinance does not affect the trash cans and bins that are placed in the rear of the house, near the alleyways. He said people do, however, need to place the cans on their property and not in the actual alley.

Indoor Furniture Being Stored Outdoors

The second nuisance ordinance voted on during first reading was Ordinance 2012-02, prohibiting indoor furnishings from being stored outdoors.

The original ordinance presented Tuesday night read as follows:

"Equipment. materials or furnishings not designed for use outdoors. such as automobile parts and tires, building materials, and interior furniture, may not be stored outdoors. Construction materials, unless such materials are related to an active building permit related to the property at which the materials are located, shall not be stored outdoors on a residentially zoned property."

But, after further discussion, the Council agreed to amend the ordinance to read:

"Furnishings not designated for use outdoors, may not be stored outdoors. Construction materials, unless such materials are related to an active building permit related to the property at which the materials are located, shall not be stored outdoors on a residentially zoned property."

The change effectively takes out the automobile parts and tires. Prior to the vote, Council Member Jennifer Salmon expressed concern about the ordinance possibly banning tire swings. Salmon also asked the Council if more specific wording could be added.

“I wish that we could also add in, unless it’s behind an opaque fence." Salmon referenced the Blueberry Patch and concerns about regulating what people can or cannot sit on or use in their own backyard.

Council member Sam Henderson agreed with those points. But Vice Mayor David Hastings voiced his concerns about the appearance of furniture or furnishings in someone's yard. “I’m not in favor of somebody putting an indoor couch in the backyard at all. Period,” Hastings said.

After the change to the wording was made, all four council members voted yes to pass Ordinance 2012-02 in first reading.

Other Code Ordinances

Both ordinances have to be passed during second reading to take effect. Several other nuisance ordinances will appear in future meetings. The topics include:

  • Prohibit non-operable/unregistered vehicles in front yards;
  • Mandate trimming of landscaping (edging of curbs/street edge);
  • Define and limit boats, trailers, RVs in front yards;
  • Change debris special pickup order from 7 days to 3 days;
  • Change where RVs can be stored.

The two ordinances voted on and the five issues listed above were all items discussed at the Code Enforcement Town Hall Meeting at the Gulfport Senior Center in November 2011. To see what residents said about the proposed changes, read our story:  "Problems, Solutions and Compromise on Code Enforcement."

Also, Gulfport City Manager Jim O'Reilly shared a 21-page PowerPoint presentation during the Town Hall Meeting about Code Enforcement. You can view and print the presentation.

mtober January 07, 2012 at 08:18 PM
@Rick- No Hastings is not my brother nor is Henderson whom I also defended above. If you stay on top of Gulfport matters you know that I have also criticized Hastings --I'm not into blind favoristism. By the same token I also attempt to compliment the council-and quite frankly the current council is one of the best we have had in years. They are smart and they work hard to do their homework on issues and they participate in the community. @Rob- don't know what mutual friend you are speaking of but if you are referring to Jim Greenwald's issue that he detailed in a letter to The Gabber, I do have concern about what was done- if what he detailed is true. He should pursue resolution of that issue thru the proper channels though as his allegations are serious enough to warrant that. I do find it odd that I have not seen any reporting of that issue in The Gabber nor here on The Patch--have you? Further to the "statements", I am reminded that Mayor Yakes has said in the past that he wants everyone to have garbage cans that have the snap on locking down lids. In other words he wants to dictate what kind of garbage cans we should purchase. I'm not too keen on that--how about you?;-)
Paul Ray January 08, 2012 at 12:21 PM
@Ron Fowler - that is not accurate. If you move into a HOA you are governed by their rules, if you move into a town you are governed by their rules. I think attempting to apply First Amendment Rights to your yard is a tad bit of a stretch. IMHO
Paul Ray January 08, 2012 at 12:22 PM
@Rob, actually they do patrol areas regularly looking for code violations such as grass/weed heights in the alleys, etc.
Rob Fowler January 08, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Hey Paul, I was quoting mtober from a previous post. Sorry for confusion.
Rob Fowler January 08, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Paul, actually I did a bit of research when the topic first came up and there have been a few cases go to the Supreme Court. The cases stated were with HOA and weeds (natural yards) were generally the subject. Political signs were also addressed and the First Amendment applies to both. If it is a "Political Statement," you are protected. A neighbor could file a lawsuit claiming damages on property value, but it is extremely hard to prove. In fact, I don't think anyone has succeeded. BTW, I have no inentions of creating a vibrant colorful Living Room set artistic political statement display in our front yard. A couple decades ago, I might have had the energy to do so. I would in our backyard though... :)

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