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City considers Nolan Ming for codes judge
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McMinnville Planning and Zoning Department is on its way toward establishing in-house codes enforcement.
City officials are considering a measure that names director Nolan Ming as a codes official and allows him to set up an enforcement mechanism within the department.
At this time, property owners believed to be in violation of City Code are sent a written notice by a department employee. If the issue is not corrected in the allotted time, the property owner is taken to Municipal Court where Judge Tim Reed decides the case.
 As explained by city attorney Tim Pirtle to members of the city Building and Grounds Committee on Tuesday, naming Ming as a codes official would allow him to decide if a violation exists and reduce the number of cases taken to court.
“It’s gotten to the point in recent discussions with Nolan and Tim Reed, a substantial part of the city court docket is now been dedicated to codes enforcement,” said Pirtle. “That’s fine and good, but if you can do it in-house, you can achieve efficiencies in terms of, not only control, but also outcome.”
Ming would also be allowed to access a fine. Per city code, the fine is $50. In some cases, that fine can be accessed per day. Fines are accessed as a lien against the property and collected in the same way as delinquent property taxes.
Alderman Everett Brock said it appears such an arrangement would make Planning and Zoning the judge, jury and executioner within one department.
“The only thing that gets me about this, and I have no problem using Nolan, especially to solve some of these problem cases, is to the general public and to me too it’s sort of like a judge, jury and executioner type system,” said Brock.
Pirtle agreed.
Homeowners, as they can in City Court, can opt to appeal Ming’s decision to a Court of Record.
Ming would not have the authority to have a homeowner arrested for failure to appear. However, neither does Reed.
“They don’t have the authority to arrest for failure to appear,” said Pirtle. “Our City Court does not have jurisdiction to incarcerate, unless it is for a criminal contempt committed in the presence of the judge. They can issue a failure to appear and have their license revoked by the Department of Safety and that has teeth.”
Alderman Ben Newman said the change would be a “more streamline way” of handling code violations, as well as be a benefit to the city because the individual making the decision would be acquainted with current city codes and how they should be followed.
Not all issues would be handled in-house.
“We can still use City Court and we will continue to use City Court for any condemnation proceeding where we are condemning unfit structures because there are too many due process issues that cause exposure to the city not to continue to do that,” said Pirtle. “If there are really problematic cases that come along that you might chose to pursue in City Court as opposed to your own court.”
Committee members unanimously agreed to recommend the change to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.