Code enforcement list targets violators
Mesa County Code Enforcement is making a list to determine whose junk most needs its
Under pressure from residents and the county commission, Mesa County Code Enforcement has struggled to prioritize its workload. Code Enforcement Director Donna Ross recently told the Mesa County Commission some cases have been dragging on for years, while other, more recently reported violations are expedited. To manage it all, the office has created a points system.
“I think their point system right now is a pretty good criteria,” Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said. “I believe it is serving the county and serving the citizens very well.”
Commissioner Craig Meis said there needs to be a distinction made between rural and urban areas.
“We are Mesa County, we aren’t the city of Mesa, and I believe in a bit more freedoms,” Meis said. “I’m just a conservative. I want government the hell out of my life.”
Commissioner Janet Rowland said she supports the new point system because it prioritizes public safety and health issues.
“I totally support the ranking system because we get upwards of 400 calls a year,” Rowland said.
The intent of the point system is to balance the opinions of the commissioners as well as to manage her office’s workload, Ross said.
“We have a high number of cases that we are working on, and the number of complaints we are getting continue to increase,” she said.
In the coming years that case load will overwhelm her staff of two full-time code enforcement officers, she said.
“As the number of active cases increase and staff stays the same, we probably will not be able to do as much on some cases as we have done previously,” Ross said.
But the department’s priorities are out of whack, said one person on the list.
Tamara Waugh said Code Enforcement is the unwitting tool of a disgruntled neighbor.
According to the Code Enforcement list, Waugh is among the county’s worst violators, with 22 points for animal violations.
“We have a neighbor that can’t keep her nose out of our business,” Waugh said. “Now it is to the point where she is actually coming and taking pictures over our six-foot fence.”
Waugh said she rescues dogs and breeds pugs, one litter a year. She said she has seven dogs and is planning to get rid of two because she is only allowed to have five. She said she works hard to keep them healthy and the yard clean.
“All I am trying to do is get these animals a good home,” she said. “I think Code Enforcement should drop off the face of the Earth.”
Others on the Code Enforcement’s list say they are not clear about what they are supposed to do but can understand the county’s concern.
Katherine Willis has a 24-point ranking on the list. She lives in the Gateway area, about 50 miles southwest of Grand Junction. The violation is in regard to a residential site plan, according to Code Enforcement.
Willis said the violation was for junk cars. Regardless, she said she is unclear what Code Enforcement wants her to do to remedy the situation. Do they want her to simply get the cars away from the road? Do they want them removed from the property altogether? She said she doesn’t know.
The cars have been on her property without complaint for years, she said. Now that Gateway Canyons Resort is in the neighborhood, it has become a problem, she said. But Willis also said perhaps she has too many vehicles.
“I suppose it’s all right if they ask us to trim it down some,” Willis said.