Property owners in the unincorporated area of Hamilton County may see an increased presence of the Hamilton County Health & Safety Board (HCHPSB).
In the March 8 agenda session, Andy Mullins, serving as the Chairman of the HCHPSB, made a presentation which included a resolution to amend the current governing rules and regulations of this group.
The HCHPSB was established in 1999, in part, to address the condition of private properties that fall within the jurisdiction of Hamilton County Government, to ensure they do not “endanger the health, safety, or welfare of anyone” or violate the terms of the various codes and regulations that would do the same.
A property owner may have contact with the Hamilton County Health Department’s Enforcement Officer who has either taken a complaint regarding that property or an adjacent or nearby property that is of concern and impacting the health and public safety of others. Complaints may relate to unsanitary conditions, hazards such as fire, accidents, or other “calamities” which would jeopardize the public, or dilapidated structures on a private property, which includes items such as swimming pools.
HCHPSB Chairman Mullins presented amending language that makes current the board’s composition to match the 11 members of the Hamilton County Commission, boosting the current membership from 10 to 12, with one Board member appointed from each Commission District and one appointee serving at large as a representative of the Hamilton County Mayor in a four-year term.
This resolution also included language, as Mr. Mullins noted, that benchmarks with more than 12 other states and municipalities of similar size. Amended language adds that the HCHPSB Enforcement Officer, “charged with the responsibility of following up with a property inspection following a complaint or has witnessed unlawful conditions from a public road, an adjacent property, or has been granted access to the property under review, shall wear a uniform, drive a clearly marked County-owned vehicle, be equipped with communication tools to access law enforcement, and be authorized to carry a County-issued firearm.”
The amended resolution includes the approval to issue devices for the Enforcement Officer “to insure his/her safety by use of a body camera, two-way radio, and GPS tracker.”
The expanded document includes the process by which a private property located outside the jurisdiction of one of Hamilton County’s 11 municipalities would be handled should a violation be assessed. These include notification of the property owner with an opportunity to provide remedy or to request a hearing before the HCHPSB. Should the need to escalate the matter beyond the Board and its finding, the Hamilton County Attorney may be the final step with a lien affixed to the property with remediation costs assessed after the work is done by the County.
Chairman Mullins, in his presentation at the agenda session, also put forward a request to be included in the 2024 County budget to cover costs of the properties under liens or those abandoned. This amended language was set for discussion on the March 15 County Commission meeting.