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Mon, May 20

Prescott code-enforcement changes in the works

If You Go

What: Council meeting

When: 5:30 p.m., March 1

Where: Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

PRESCOTT - Two new "tools in the toolbox" for dealing with disruptive properties and legal non-conforming uses will go to a vote of the Prescott City Council this week.

The voting meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St. It will be preceded by a 1 p.m. council workshop.

The council is expected to vote on two of the code-enforcement changes that arose during 2014 discussions about dealing with the proliferation of group homes in Prescott.

Although the council originally discussed four possible code changes, including a strict policy on smoking on public and private property, only two appeared to have support of a majority of the council during a January meeting.

They include:

• A change in the way the city would deal with legal non-conforming uses in residential zones. Currently, the city presumes that a use that no longer conforms with code is abandoned after one year. The code change would shorten that to six months.

A city memo states: "A zoning ordinance may provide that a non-conforming use is deemed abandoned if the use is discontinued for some specific period of time."

Non-residential zones would continue under the current one-year presumption for abandonment of a legal non-conforming use.

• A change in the enforcement on disruptive properties. A city memo notes, "The current city code does little to combat properties where negative behavior and activities of the residents are frequent and ongoing."

The code would give the city more authority to deal with the impacts of properties that "unreasonably disturb the peace and tranquility of the neighborhood." For instance, the memo mentions fighting, disruptive conduct, brawling, or illegal drug use.

Under the proposed code, the owner of a disruptive property would be given a written notice of the disruptive activity and be requested to oversee, monitor, and control the activities. Repeat offenses would lead to assessment of a special service fee by the police or code-enforcement officers.

The code change would not preclude the city from enforcing other laws or ordinances that are already in place for dealing with the individuals who commit the disruptive behavior, the memo added.

While the code changes came up during discussion of group homes, city officials have pointed out that enforcement would apply citywide, and not only to group homes.

In other action, the council will:

• At its 1 p.m. workshop, the council will hear a presentation on proposed building, fire and planning fee adjustments.

City Manager Craig McConnell said Friday, Feb. 26, that the fee adjustments are being suggested "to more reasonably cover the cost of (providing) the services."

The fee increases first came up this past November, during the council's consideration of budget cuts and adjustments needed because of increasing costs in public-safety pensions (PSPRS).

At that time, the council heard reports from the building, fire and planning departments about possible fee increases, as well as new fees.

McConnell said this week's presentation would include a list of numerous fees that could be adjusted. It will also include a summary from a Feb. 17 public meeting that the city conducted on the issue.

The fee increases would require a months-long approval process, which could end in early May, with a council vote. Depending on the outcome, McConnell said, the new fees could in effect by early June.

• Continue its discussion of implementation of a business license in Prescott.

The council last discussed the matter in early February, and agreed to move forward with the discussion.

• Consider conceptual designs for the Marina Street, Carleton Street, Alarcon Street and Bashford Courts parking lot improvements.

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