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Fridley Continues Aggressive Code Enforcement

Although Fridley’s Community Development staff had much on their plates in 2007, they did manage to continue their aggressive efforts to address code enforcement issues in Fridley. They also anticipate a similarly aggressive effort in 2008.

During 2007, they conducted 2,137 inspections, and processed 1,184 code violations. This compares with 1,950 inspections, and 1,142 code violations in 2006. The top five code violations consisted of illegal outdoor storage, weeds, vehicles parked off pavement, improperly stored garbage, and brush. The only change in the ranking of frequencies for these code violations was for inoperable vehicles, which dropped out of the top five. The number of these violations fell from 125 in 2006 to 57 in 2007.

installed without a permit, and temporary signs. In addition to removing hundreds of illegal temporary signs from public rights-of-way, staff issued violation letters to fifteen persons or companies that had repeatedly posted these signs. They also issued violation notices to four companies which illegally installed permanent signs.

As we head toward the 2008 political campaign season, staff would like to remind election campaign organizations that campaign signs must be installed at least 10’ behind the curb line and be no larger than 32 square feet. While the City does not require a permit for these signs, we do require that the signs must be removed within ten days after the election.

Other features of the 2007 code enforcement scene included a significant reduction in the time it takes to bring closure to a code violation issue after a complaint has been filed. That time was reduced from thirty-one days to twenty-three days. Much of this reduction is attributable to the introduction of hand held computers that staff carries into the field to register code violations.

Although staff did not focus on commercial/ industrial code violations until later in the year, they did complete 100 late summer inspections that resulted in twenty violation notices. This compares with twelve commercial/industrial cases in 2006.

As the snow finally melts and we head toward warmer weather, the City Council will be considering legislation that enhances staff’s ability to deal with specific structural issues. The new legislation, which is scheduled to come before Council in April, will allow staff to cite property owners for rotting soffits, broken windows, missing garage doors, fallen spouting/gutters, and situations where more than 10% of the shingles are missing from roofs. This additional authority will enable staff to address many citizen complaints that cannot be addressed under existing City ordinances. It may also generate the need for additional staff resources.

Staff also continued its quest to correct outdoor storage violations associated with special use permits. While much remains to be done to correct violations associated with outdoor storage at Fridley’s three salvage yards, substantial progress has been made in cooperation with each of three auto parts dealers. Two have made significant progress in meeting special use permit requirements, and the City is seeking a negotiated settlement with a third dealer.

The City’s aggressive code enforcement efforts and the expansion of code enforcement authority is responsive to our 2007 citizen survey results that showed that the number of residents making code violation complaints rose from 12% in 2005 to 23% in 2007. It is also responsive to the 89% of Fridley residents who say they support the adoption of a housing maintenance code.

Additionally, staff has succeeded in correcting outdoor storage violations at the former Lampert’s Lumber property on Highway 65. After a long history of non-compliance, and at least two different appearances in City Council meetings where revocation of his special use permit was considered, the owner of the property finally cleared construction equipment, materials and assorted junk from this property prior to a February 15 deadline that was mandated by the City Council.

The City’s Community Development staff has also continued their constant battle against illegal signs and illegal home occupations in Fridley. These include permanent signs that are allowed, but

As we expand code enforcement authority and get set for another busy code enforcement season, we ask that residents help us by reporting code enforcement violations by calling 572-3592. At the same time, we suggest that in situations where a neighbor is in need of help (possibly due to age and/or infirmity), that you offer to help with the problem. Code enforcement is a truly demanding problem, which unfortunately repeats itself each year. It is also a community problem that is best solved through joint cooperation between residents and local government. We thank you for your past cooperation and look forward to your continued cooperation in the months ahead.

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Fridley Seniors Celebrate Mardi Gras… Again

Last year we told our readers that Mardi Gras was a religious holiday… the day before Ash Wednesday. While it may be religiously signifi- cant, the Fridley Senior Program, quite frankly, uses it as an opportunity to gambol and gamble. This year more than 150 seniors assembled at the Fridley Community Center to once again play numerous games of chance including Black Jack, Texas Hold’em, and Bingo.

As they arrived, they were given a packet of play money, beads and a “Moon Pie.” After that they assembled around tables for the various games of chance. Those who selected Black Jack met their dealers… a group of very distinguished communi- ty notables that included Parks and Recreation Director Jack Kirk, Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Dave Kondrick, and Councilmember Bob Barnette. Other dealers included seniors Dick Vidlund, Ardella and Barny Buss, Dick Morin, Mel Kuehni, and Don Ziegler. Additionally, Recreation Supervisor Mark Daly, and City Manager Bill Burns helped with the deal- ing. Rob Smith from District #14’s Alternative Learning Center, Toni Kraft, Community Education Director for District #14, and Nancy Shaw, Anoka County Community Action Program Senior Outreach Worker officiated Bingo.

Although there was no real money at stake, there were more than $600 in door prizes and prizes for the winners of the various games of chance. Most of these prizes were $10 gift certificates from restaurants and other retail outlets.

Lively conversation and refreshments, including an assortment of dessert bars, coffee, and punch, punctuated the card playing. Additionally, Ecowater provided bottled water.

Connie Thompson, Fridley’s Senior Coordinator, very capably coordinated the event for the tenth consecutive year. Connie had excellent help from Dorothy Hegna and Paul Witte from the American Legion Auxiliary. Recreation Supervisor Margo Prasek also assisted with picture taking. Connie reminds us that the Senior Program will again be hosting a Senior Mardi Gras on February 24, 2009!

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