With a 3-2 vote, the BPMC / IPMC for Baldwin County was voted down during today’s County Commission meeting.
Votes for: Commissioners Craig and Westmoreland
Votes against: Commissioners Davis, French, and Hall
This was the culmination of 8+ months of work by regular citizens who didn’t want to see their county turned into a giant homeowner’s association in the name of “blight control.” Despite the best efforts of the County Evangelist, er, Manager and the commission’s best property barons, the socialist takeover was thwarted once and for all.
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.
“The city has emphasized that it wants blighted property cleaned up.”
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.
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!
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!
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”
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”
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.
The City-County plan is a great way to get some insight into how our city and county leaders are thinking. Some of it’s great. Some of it is not. And a few pieces reveal some plans they probably didn’t expect to be discussed yet. This is by no means a complete review of the plan but this list of some of their goals will give you an idea of how they see our future.
“Explore options to mitigate school traffic on the west side of town.”
They purposefully built every school on the same 2-mile stretch of road. Traffic surprises them now? Almost every school in the county plus the BOE office plus the transportation depot are on that street, one without a traffic light on either end.
“One group in the city and county that is steadily growing is the retiree community. “
Then why in the world do they think “encourage walkability” is a desired goal? None of the retirement community wants to walk around despite what vitamin commercials may have you think. College students want to walk to one place: the bar. That’s why their housing is built within staggering distance of downtown.
“Develop additional in-town bike and pedestrian trails.”
How about keeping bicycles out of the way of cars? You know, the ones who pay the gas and vehicle taxes that pay for the upkeep of those roads they so desperately want to carve up so a dozen people can be seen working out. Hunky McShortypants can ride his bike somewhere else while the adults drive on the paved streets and highways.
“Review regulations that pertain to ridesharing options.”
Let’s force taxi companies to pay for cab licenses, have yearly inspections, and so forth, while we invite another company to hire any random slob to drive people around in his personal car with zero oversight. They’re dispatched with a phone app so it’s got to be a progressive move!
“The community needs to alleviate existing and prevent new areas of blight.”
Here’s the nugget they hid in the document! “A land bank is one instrument by which communities can purchase and clean up blighted properties to prepare them for eventual reuse.” Ohh, no. They aren’t buying anything. They’re going to fine them into submission and then seize the property they want to redistribute.
Some other random goals they have:
“Monitor growth along the Oconee River Greenway to discourage incompatible land uses.”
“Seek funding for additional phases of the Oconee River Greenway.”
Price tag: 50 MILLION dollars. They sure think a lot of what’s basically some grass next to the river. They’re pouring huge sums into it for what? They need to increase law enforcement presence where they are first. Some parts of the Greenway are dangerously isolated.
“Construct a community swimming pool or splash pad.”
It wouldn’t be a $2 million expense if they hadn’t bulldozed the old one in a pre-dawn sneak attack.
“Pursue additional funding to create more staff positions to ensure adequate enforcement of county codes.”
And you wondered how one person would enforce the IPMC?
Mr. Tobar addressed the NAACP meeting this week. I must say, he has the delivery of his “medicine” carefully concealed among the “sugar” of his other promises. It’s easy to see how he drifts from county to county, blasting the IPMC into place and then moving on to another area filled with hicks too ignorant to know how to live among high society.
First we were told the story of how he grew up in San Francisco with 9 siblings. He even pointed out that them living in that house would be illegal under the IPMC. In true California Liberal fashion, he’s ok with that paradox. People need the government to tell them how to live because clearly we’ve been doing it wrong here in Baldwin County for the past 200 years.
He promised the people of the Harrisburg community that they would be getting new basketball courts, a bike trail and speed humps along Harrisburg Road, and many more improvements to make the area kid-friendly. That’s the sugar part.
The IPMC was then introduced as the friend of the renter. That’s right – it’ll force landlords to fix leaky pipes, rotten floors, and heaters. He left out the other things like how flaking exterior paint or missing window screens mean diddly-squat to a low-income renter.
When rusted trailers were mentioned directly to Mr. Tobar, he said that the whole section on oxidation had been removed. Well, it’s still in the county’s document, highlighted in yellow as one of the changed items. It may not apply to owner-occupied structures but it still applies to renters: exactly the ones they hoped to target.
“All metal surfaces subject to rust or corrosion shall be coated to inhibit such rust and corrosion, and all surfaces with rust or corrosion shall be stabilized and coated to inhibit future rust and corrosion.”
Trailers from the 1970s and 80s were metal. Nobody lives in those today for the fun of it. They do so because they’re the most economical place to stay that isn’t in a homeless shelter or under a bridge. Just to get to the NAACP meeting he had to drive past several dozen trailers that would not pass this section. What are those tenants supposed to do when their homes are deemed illegal? The trailer park owner isn’t about to go purchase 50 new mobile homes!
Mr. Tobar and Mr. French were also asked how we can be sure that enforcement by complaint won’t be weaponized against minorities and the poor. They were quite adamant that “it wouldn’t be used that way” but why write anything in a manner that you don’t plan to use?
Trailer parks in desirable areas will be the first targets. Developers can’t wait to get their hands on the large parcels of land to, as Mr. Tobar spelled out, “get rid of the trailers and build regular homes in their place.” That’s well and good but the people who lived in the trailers will not be able to afford the houses. What happens to them then?
The whole IPMC fiasco is happening for two simple reasons:
1) A few rich people don’t like seeing people live differently than they do and they desperately want that land for themselves. How dare someone tinker with cars or not make lawn care their top priority! That’s how so-and-so did it in the Army and now everyone else should too.
2) There are 4-5 properties in town that are overgrown and/or have abandoned buildings on them and the commission is convinced this is the only way to do get rid of them. Is it? Not according to the legal review of the existing ordinances, but that’s a subject for a later date!
The county commission is working very hard to push the public image that they’re trying to make concessions and work with those who are against giving up their property rights. They made the items pertaining to interiors of houses apply only to rented properties. They decided that you’re allowed to have “inoperable” vehicles in the yard if you can’t see them from the street. Now we’re all on the same page, right? Ha!
The commissioners still have not given a clear, concise answer as to why they believe the current code is unenforceable. Why? Because they can’t figure out a politically-correct way to say “it doesn’t let us control appearances.” It’s not about public health and safety; it’s all about making money for a few influential investors.
The revisions still include their goals of “Attracting Jobs Through Superior Landscaping.” Ok, they didn’t name it that — I did. They still think that you should be forced to keep your grass cut even if you live way out in the country. 100ft in all directions is a huge and arbitrary area to keep cut all to please people who don’t live there. And then they’ll keep a straight face when they tell you that will attract employers and jobs. Never mind an educated, work-ready workforce — companies seek manicured lawns from county line to county line!
“Section 302.4 All premises and exterior property shall be maintained free from weeds or grass allowed to grow to a height greater than 18 inches on the average, or any accumulation of dead weeds, grass, or brush that may provide safe harborage for rats, mice, snakes and/or other vermin which are within 100 feet, excluding wooded areas, to an adjacent dwelling. Excluded are ornamental grasses in landscaped areas of properties.
Upon failure of the owner or agent having charge of a property to cut and destroy weeds after service of a notice of violation, they shall be subject to prosecution in accordance with Section 106.3 and as prescribed by the authority having jurisdiction. Upon failure to comply with the notice of violation, any duly authorized employee of the jurisdiction or contractor hired by the jurisdiction shall be authorized to enter upon the property in violation and cut and destroy the weeds growing thereon, and the costs of such removal shall be paid by the owner or agent responsible for the property.”
How’s that for over-reach? You can live in the boonies on 20 acres but they still want to dictate how your grass is kept. It’s even worse for people who live on small properties. That 100 ft. radius is likely larger than the whole property. That means every square inch of the yard has to be kept like a golf course. When you don’t, the same people who can’t keep our rights-of-way cut more than once a year will hand you a bill for doing it for you.
I say the first place we hold to that standard should be Lockerly Arboretum. Any flowers, bushes, or non-native plants there that aren’t cultivated should be mowed down within 30 days or the county should do it for them. I want to see a 100 ft radius of nothing but manicured grass around every structure on the property. If that sounds absurd, it is no more so than making the rest of the county’s residents do the same.
They’ll now graciously allow you to have an “inoperable” vehicle in the yard as long as you hide it under a cover or in the back yard. It’s not their yard but they just can’t stand that you might have a hobby they don’t approve of. Notice there’s nothing in there about junky boat houses or rotting docks or inoperable golf carts.
Lumping the most restrictive conditions on rental properties still continues the master plan of outlawing poor people. If the homes they rent are declared in violation and the property owner isn’t willing to spend thousands of dollars just to make hundreds of dollars in return, the property goes off the rental market. That means the people who lived there have to move — but where? The puppet masters pulling the strings of our commissioners don’t care as long as they move somewhere else. Our whole county is a country club dammit, and anyone who doesn’t want to live that way just doesn’t deserve to live here.
The proposed code is still about one group of people dictating how everyone should live. They know what’s best and they can’t wait to force it onto everyone else. The more indignant they can act the more certain they are that their way is the only way to live. You should be thrilled to give up your rights under the premise of “public good.”
We learned two major things from the meeting this week.
• Apparently some people are in a hurry to get this thing passed. They see no reason for deliberation or debate. The county needs to tell people how to live and they need to do it right now! Not everybody keeps their properties the same way these people do and they should be forced into it! Forget rights — this is about conforming!
• Gary Spillers wants the county government to bulldoze all trailer parks and anything else that he feels ruins the ambiance of the luxury properties he builds. Get those lower income people out of his way!
Let’s start with Mr. Spillers first since he really takes the cake. He’s got plans for a $14 million hotel across from the former Georgia Power Plant Branch. He’s also big into developing college student housing complexes. For some reason he thinks everyone has the money he does, or the money those college places charge parents to shove as many students into a unit as they can.
Now he wants our government to force cheaper housing options out of the areas he wants to build. That would allow him to swoop in and get them at a fraction of their actual value and he could build even more luxury housing in their place. Where the displaced people would live is none of his concern! He just doesn’t want to have to see trailers on the way to his lake getaway — never mind that those places were there first!
Then there are the speakers who wanted the commissioners to quit debating and vote. It’s almost scary how they just want “something” done for the sake of saying something was done. It’s the same 3-4 people at every meeting using the same (pre-arranged?) phrases like “Parents teach children to clean up after themselves. Now as adults they should do the same.” The difference is simple: the adults own these properties and have a legal right to the private enjoyment thereof.
That’s really the crux of the issue: should people have to give up a right in exchange for making another group of people happy? Some of the speakers last night sure think so. 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!
You would think that the capacity crowd in the commission chambers plus the 30+ more people in the hall would paint a clear picture: The more people find out about what is on the horizon the more they’re against it. Several speakers (including a couple of long-time local business owners) commented that they just found out about the whole thing and are convinced that the IPMC is not right for our county. We here at NO_IPMC couldn’t agree more!
You wish to lecture the community on the importance of “difficult decisions” from the comfort of your luxury home deep inside a heavily-restricted community. You’re so isolated from the commoners you despise you probably haven’t seen a Jehovah’s Witness in years! You want to live among carefully manicured lawns and shrubs free from any appearance of someone having interests or hobbies that might conflict with their neighbors aesthetic values. Well congratulations: you already live there!
“While it’s true that property owners have rights within the boundary lines of the property they work and pay taxes to maintain, so do their neighbors and other local residents who must view their property.”
Totally untrue! The owner of a property has NO obligation to make others happy with its appearance. People have zero rights to land they do not own. If there is not a situation that threatens the safety or health of the public then there is no actionable issue for local government.
“We mustn’t lose sight of the bigger picture and the fact that dilapidated homes and unkempt properties are breeding grounds for crime and illicit activity and oftentimes, other residents have their hands tied with limited recourse with regards to safety in their own neighborhoods.”
Everything you mentioned is already against existing ordinances. They just refuse to enforce them. The current laws carry fines and legal actions. You don’t even have to go look them up; we referenced them right here just a few posts ago! If you want to get fired up, go find out why they aren’t using the tools already at their disposal.
“The goal was never to infringe upon the rights of property owners, but instead to ensure the rights of everyone in the community by enabling them to live in clean, healthy neighborhoods. “
If that wasn’t the goal, they sure nailed it anyway! So they’re only going to take away “little rights” from property owners? Only a “few” of them? Where do you draw the line at giving up rights to your own property? It’s always termed a “necessary good” every time someone else loses their freedom.
“Then, they must make the hard decision. That’s what leaders do. Baldwin County officials must lead on the IMPC issue by adopting this policy in order to move the community forward.”
To paraphrase Dr. Phil, that is interpreted as “Ignore everything else I said. Now I’ll say what I really mean.” To you, “real” leaders dictate to their constituents. They don’t vote in a manner consistent with the opinions of the people who put them in office. They tell the ignorant masses how to live in high society. Well guess what? Those same people can put them right out of office and can force a public referendum to get the IPMC repealed. Remember those “loud objectors?” There are enough of those ready and willing to submit the petitions required to make that happen. Just like your last pet project (consolidation), the IPMC has no place in Baldwin County.
We know all too well the business school principle they teach that people will be mad for a while and then interest will die down. If that’s what you and the commissioners are expecting this time, you’re in for quite a surprise! No sir, they really kicked the hornet’s nest this time. The more people find out about what the IPMC contains the more upset they get about being tricked by their representatives.
Don’t lecture to us about people who live in homes valued at 1/100th of your own. You lack the proper perspective, just like Mr. Westmoreland in his lake home or Mr. Craig with his 37-property portfolio. I can’t include our county manager in that list; he hasn’t even moved here yet!
Don’t think “they’ve watered it down enough it’ll be ok.” Don’t trust that there are enough people going already. Go and be seen! Show them that the “vocal few” is actual the “vocal majority.” Show up before 5:00 at the courthouse downtown. There will definitely be a crowd and you should be part of it. Even if you’ve never done anything political before in your life, bring your friends and neighbors to make it a turnout like they’ve never seen!
For all the various arguments against adopting the IPMC, this one is the most basic: it is your private property. You don’t require anyone else’s approval of how you enjoy it. If you don’t stop the IPMC they will be able to dictate all aspects of the property you bought and pay the taxes on. Rich developers have their eyes on certain areas of the county and they can’t wait to have the government do their dirty work for them.
The NO IPMC campaign is made up of members from all areas of the county and all walks of life. Nobody is immune to the danger it presents; what’s bad for one person is bad for all. Remind the commissioners that they are there to represent our views, not to dictate how we will live!
One person’s rights end where they begin to infringe on the rights of another.