More city code changes to come

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The City of Fort Stockton’s Code Enforcement Department will soon team up with the Police Department, and a certificate of occupancy may be required by all businesses in the coming year.

During their regular meeting on Dec. 19, the City Council discussed a need for certificates of occupancy for businesses in town.

“A new section to the ordinances, if added, will entitle us to go to buildings not in compliance and try to get them up to code,” said City Building Official Aaron Maldonado. “We would want them to post an occupancy certificate in the buildings within city limits. That says the building has followed all the state regulations, codes, and fire codes.”

Maldonado explained that many buildings in town don’t post these certificates, and many are noncompliant with fire codes. The certificate of occupancy verifies that a building is completely safe for the patrons within it.

“This ordinance will aid me in getting all businesses up to code,” Maldonado said.

Councilman Ruben Falcon reminded the council that the city had attempted a similar feat involving grease traps, giving each establishment 18 months in which to bring their traps up to code.

“The grease traps were clogging the city lines,” Falcon said. “But no one did it, hoping it would just go away. Tickets were then given out right after the 18-month time period was up, and people were upset.”

Falcon pointed out the council needed to give the Code Enforcement Department the power to create a more detailed schedule for businesses to go about obtaining their certificates of occupancy.

After much discussion, the council approved the changes to the city ordinance, requiring certificates of occupancy.

On the same note, the council discussed transferring the Code Enforcement Department under the jurisdiction of the FS Police Department.

City Manager Frank Rodriguez discussed a need for support for Code Enforcement for issues such as street violations, and abandoned vehicles and trailers.

“Teaming up with the Police Department will just give Code Enforcement more authority to do their jobs,” said Rodriguez. “The Code Enforcement Department will still do their day to day tasks when it comes to new businesses, and they will still work on current businesses normally; police will just help with enforcement issues.”

The board unanimously approved placing the city’s Code Enforcement Department under the jurisdiction of the Police Department.

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