CRESTVIEW — The Crestview City Council at its March 24 workshop discussed a proposed overhaul of the city’s property maintenance code.
One of the sticking points was the section on maintenance of weeds. The proposed code states exterior property areas in the city should be free from weeds or plant growth in excess of 12 inches, with exceptions for cultivated flowers and gardens. The code also states that the city has the authority to cut down the excessive vegetation at the property owner’s expense if the owner fails to comply with code violation notices.
City councilman Doug Faircloth raised concerns about the city’s liability in the event a contractor hired by the city caused damage while on private property.
“If they incur a cost because Grandma’s rose garden was so overgrown they cut down the rose bushes too, and in the course of getting there they run over and break four or five sprinkler heads," he asked, "is that going to be part of the cost incurred, or is Crestview going to be liable?”
City attorney Ben Holley confirmed the city would be liable for any property damage in that scenario.
Growth Management Director Teresa Gaillard, whose department had the task of updating the code, said that situations where people did not comply with code violation notices are rare.
Public services director Wayne Steele said his department takes appropriate precautions when entering onto private property for any reason.
“There are a lot of times we go on private property, but we always get permission,” Steele said. “We get hold-harmless agreements. We get everything we can to protect us. We take pictures before we do anything and after.”
The council will now review the proposed changes and submit any questions to the Growth Management Department by April 9 in order to take action on the overhaul at the May 14 regular council meeting.
Council members also took time to welcome the city’s new code official, Chuck Bonta. Bonta is a state-licensed building inspector who has worked for the Okaloosa Board of Commissioners for 17 years.