Keep Your Rights in the Back Yard

Hey, you can still ride the bus – you just have to sit in the back.

That’s exactly the approach the IPMC, er, “Baldwin County Property Maintenance Code” takes with your property rights. You can do whatever you want as long as it can’t be seen from the road. That isn’t how things work in America.

Mr. Tobar pretends that all the changes have been his idea when it has actually been the community outrage that has forced the repeated concessions.  He dropped the IPMC onto Grady County residents when he himself said that it “is scary” at how intrusive it actually is.  Our citizens wouldn’t fall for it that easily so they went back to the drawing board. Then they lumped the majority of the requirements onto rental properties only to discover that didn’t squelch the opposition either. He then changed the name of it, as if that would throw anybody off the trail.

Most of the socialist nonsense is gone but there’s still enough left that they want to vote it in and claim victory over the unwashed masses. In a newspaper interview this weekend, Mr. Tobar says “I’ve seen some really awful yards. I’ve seen a lot of tires out in front of the public view, all kinds of appliances and grass growing through the windows of old junked cars and trucks…” And guess what? Those aren’t YOUR yards!

He paints a vivid picture of rusting, unidentifiable metal carcasses and appliance graveyards when the ordinance specifies something as common as an un-registered vehicle in the driveway. That’s right – just the lack of a current tag (which requires insurance) means you’re in violation, even if it’s a hobby car you like to tinker with or a father-son project that will be ready by his 16th birthday. It can even be licensed and insured but if it can’t drive under its own power, it isn’t legal. No sir, that doesn’t sit well with the Baldwin County Homeowner’s Association, er, code enforcement.  It’s your box Chevy or collection of Mopars that is keeping companies from moving here!

It’s a complete fantasy to think that any potential industry would care if you’ve got an old Nova in the front yard or a parts car on the side of the house. Who does care? The snobs who don’t have such a hobby and therefore think no one else should be allowed to either. You moved way out into the county to enjoy your hobbies in peace? Too bad! You don’t deserve to live in today’s modern, progressive Baldwin County. You keep your hick activities out of public view! Mr. Tobar said he learned that potential employers don’t go look at the country club houses. Well, he’s right there — our country club went out of business! We don’t HAVE one! If you want success in Baldwin County, you focus on housing college students or getting them drunk.

If you like to work on cars, all you have to do is hide behind a fence or in an enclosed garage. Well, those choices only cost a few thousand dollars to implement and then require upkeep as well. Some people may throw around thousands of dollars but most are on a budget. It makes as much sense as requiring a lifeguard on duty at a bird bath.

“Hide it from public view” is the same approach meth labs use!


What if it said “All flowers must not be visible from the road, or be kept in an approved, fully-enclosed greenhouse structure.”  Why should you not be able to work on a car anywhere in your yard you wish to? It’s YOUR property!

So the county has cut the grass at all its properties before the vote on this matter. Great. Mr. Tobar is literally saying that simply because the county cut their grass, now we should all abide by their Great Code of Progress and ignore our rights as property owners. County land is public property and should be maintained however the public deems fit. Private property is for the quiet enjoyment of the owner of that property. Whether others agree with that use – barring public health and safety risks – is irrelevant.

What was posted here a few weeks back still applies:

Should people have to give up a right in exchange for making another group of people happy? … The problem with giving up freedom is that it never stops there. It keeps getting eaten away until one day you find you have none left. A car in my neighbor’s yard is none of my business. Tall grass in a neighbor’s yard is none of my business. Whether his plant is considered a flower or a weed is none of my business. Why? Because it’s not my yard!

Show up at the June 5th commission meeting as they try to limp this one across the finish line. YOU are the only reason it isn’t the full-strength IPMC it started out as, and YOU are the ones who can keep it confined to legitimate health and safety concerns.

How bad could it be?

Just ask the citizens of Moultrie, GA.  The city adopted the IPMC back in 2005 and nobody really noticed.  It wasn’t heavily enforced and life went on as normal.  Until this year…

Read article at the Moultrie Observer << — click to read

“The city has emphasized that it wants blighted property cleaned up.”

Sound familiar?

Jeremy Paradise, the first landowner to speak, urged the council to adopt a timetable approach: Safety issues would have to be fixed immediately, electricity would be restored so he could rent the house, then he’d be required to fix other issues within 30 days. But he thought some of the requirements were unnecessary.

“I think all the aesthetic issues or cosmetic issues should be put to bed,” he said.

Among those was peeling paint on the outside of the house — which several of the landowners cited as an unnecessary repair.

Larry Franklin, another landowner, said the inspector wouldn’t turn the electricity on because he said the house needed a new roof, but the roof on the house was functional.

“We had patched the roof and it was ugly,” Franklin said, “but it didn’t leak.”

Franklin said he’d have shingled over the roof but the inspector wouldn’t let him. He said state code allows roofing over one layer of shingles, which is what the house had, but the inspector wouldn’t approve that plan. The old shingles were made of asbestos, he said, and to remove them properly would have cost thousands of dollars — or thousands of dollars in fines if he removed them improperly.

Many of the houses involved are old — one landowner pointed out that 38.2 percent of the houses in Moultrie were built before 1969 — and several of the landowners argued they can’t be brought up to modern building codes.

“The houses I purchased were built to code [as it was written] when I purchased them,” Franklin said.


Darrell Moore, who is president of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority and has invested in rental properties as part of his retirement plan, said 50.8 percent of the city’s households make $25,000 a year or less.

“Where are those folks making $25,000 a year going to live if you eliminate these houses? Or somebody puts fifteen or twenty thousand into improvements, they’re going to raise the rents,” he said


This is exactly what awaited Baldwin County if we didn’t object before things were set in stone.  Over half of their city makes $25k or less yet they are full swing in to “blight control” as if they’ll become a resort city overnight if they can just get those citizens to slap a coat of paint onto their houses.

The IPMC is dropped! Or is it?

Our county commissioners gleefully announced that they have “dropped the IPMC” and replaced it with our own local code.  Yay!  To do this they had to travel to Savannah where they participated in an expensive “retreat” to discuss the same topics they do right here in town.  Nothing like wasting taxpayer’s money before you clobber them with new regulations!

Westin Savannah Harbor resort
Did they really need to travel here just to delete parts of an existing document?

Do they really think we’re that gullible?  Changing the name of the document from the “International Property Maintenance Code” to the “Baldwin County Property Maintenance Code” is not exactly “dropping” the IPMC.  What else did they change from the last document?  I’m glad you asked!

Baldwin County Property Mgt Code – final draft  <– Click to read

Changes made:

Change of title from International Property Maintenance Code to Baldwin County Property Maintenance Code


Added light, ventilation, space, heating to the scope.


Changed “department of property maintenance inspection” to “Code Enforcement Department”


Changed “in a structure” to “in occupied premises”.

Added an additional “If entry is refused, the code official shall have recourse to the remedies provided by law to secure entry” even though such clause existed in the second paragraph already.


Changed “shall be charged” to “may be charged” in regard to criminal prosecution.


Changed title from “Abatement” to “Enforcement”


removed section


Added “ventilation, illumination” and “heating” to items required to be considered fit for occupancy.

Added “to be occupied by more persons than permitted under this code” to the list of conditions of an “unlawful structure.”


Removed parts 1 and 2

Added an entire section on burned buildings and the required demolition thereof.

paragraph 9: added “inadequate light, ventilation, mechanical” and “plumbing” to items required in a building used for dwelling purposes.

paragraph 10: removed references to fire-resistant construction, replaced with “a lack of electrical system, sanitary system”


Removed section regarding “Upon failure of the owner to close up the premises…”


Changed allowed period to demolish a condemned structure from one year to six months.


Changed “code official shall cause the structure to be demolished” to “code official may cause the structure to be demolished”


Changed board of appeals from “a minimum of three members” to “five members”


Changed “The chief administrative officer shall designate” to “The board of appeals shall designate” a secretary.


Changed fine from “not less than 500 dollars” to “not less than 100 dollars”


Changed “to a height greater than 18 inches on the average” to “to a height greater than 30 inches on the average over a 90 day period”


Section removed


Replaced entire section regarding fencing with language addressing stagnant water and mosquitoes.

Sections 304 – 307 removed


Changed requirements for waste disposal to ” placing such garbage in secured or tied bags and disposed in an approved garbage disposal facility or approved garbage containers” while removing language regarding incinerators and waste grinders.


Added garbage bag requirements with “placing such garbage in secured or tied bags and disposed in an approved”

The remaining sections of the previous draft code are removed. These include sections 309, 401, 402, 403, 404, 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 602, 603, 604, 605, 606, 607, 701, 702, 703, and 704.


So, they haven’t “dropped” anything except their standards of what’s considered a truthful statement.  That’s a management degree for you though;  they’re masters of pushing the same thing 9 different ways to get it passed.  Too bad we aren’t the uneducated rubes they think we are!

This scene from My Cousin Vinny sums up their approach perfectly.  Mr. Tobar is going to present the code (whatever name you want to give it) showing only the sides he wants you to see.  Then when viewed from the proper angle, you see how thin it really is and how it will only hurt the residents of this county.

My Cousin Vinny (card scene)  <<– click to view

Changing the name will not make us go away!  We’ll see you at the public hearing on June 5th!