Nelsonville Introduces Amended Civil Citation Process

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A resolution was introduced by Nelsonville City Council this week that could allow the city code enforcement director and police officers to write civil citations to residents for misdemeanor violations such as trash, noise, and unkept property.

A resolution had been introduced last month to adopt an administrative citation process in lieu of criminal prosecution for certain offenses, as recommended by the city’s planning commission. However, some Council members had concerns about how the process would hold up in court. The resolution did not get enough votes to become law.

The new proposal would allow Nelsonville Code Enforcement Director Steve Pierson and Nelsonville police officers to issue citations to residents for certain misdemeanor offenses, but residents would have 14 days to comply before having to pay fines and court costs.

Councilman Terry Koons said the defeated proposal would have allowed for residents to be cited and then charged on their taxes if they didn’t comply. The new proposal would allow residents to contest their citation in mayor’s court if they felt it necessary. The proposed legislation still gives residents 14 days to comply with the city code before they are fined.

The person writing the citation would take a photograph of the violation at the time as evidence. Council said they could alter the legislation in the future to allow firefighters to also write citations.

Koons said the fines would start at $20 for the first offense, $40 for a second offense within a year, $60 for a third offense within a year and so on.

However, Council members emphasized that the goal of the proposal isn’t necessarily to collect more revenue, but to get residents to comply with the city code — particularly to keep their property clean.

One audience member asked if a renter or landlord would be cited if a tenant does not keep property clean. Council President Kevin Dotson said that the citation would be issued to the tenant, but if compliance to correct a violation does not happen, then the property owner could eventually be cited too. He said it would be left to the discretion of the person writing the citation.

Nelsonville City Council is slated to vote on the resolution on July 28.