Code enforcement vs. building code inspections explained at Martin City Council Meeting

By Deb Hendrickson

Code Enforcement Specialist Joel Johnson from Burke, S.D., attended the regular Martin City Council meeting on Wednesday, February 10. City Attorney Sara Frankenstein stated via a telephone conference call that Johnson is looking to do just property maintenance code work and not new build work. 

Johnson reviewed the building code ordinances that the council had been working on but feels his expertise lies solely with doing work related to the international property maintenance code but not anything pertaining to the building code. 

He went on to explain the process he intends to follow when conducting his initial inspection of property code violations within the city limits of Martin. He stated that most of his inspections are done from a line of sight from the street or the alley.

According to Johnson, in every community he serves, he drives through all the streets and alleys making a list and taking pictures of all the violations. A file is then compiled for each individual property. When he finishes his inspections and compilation of the files, he submits them to the council to get instructions on how to proceed. The process usually takes approximately five weeks.

City Police Chief Brandon Petersen asked the council if Johnson, as the city’s code enforcement specialist has the authority to issue tickets. City Attorney Sara Frankenstein stated only law enforcement has that authority. She encouraged Chief Petersen and Johnson work together if this process becomes a necessity.

A telephone conference call with Chase Williamson of West River Inspections of Spearfish was held. Williamson is a registered home inspector and a certified residential building inspector. He gave a detailed explanation of the services he performs versus a code enforcement specialist.

Attorney Frankenstein recommended holding off on passing a comprehensive new building code until the council could determine if hiring a building inspector is conducive. She also stated that the International Building Code books were currently being revised so advised waiting to order those as well. The council decided to table hiring a building code building inspector pending further research.

City Foreman Paul Noel stated 25 trees at the Kiefer property which were in violation of the FAA height restriction for approaching and departing the airport runway have been removed. An environmental study to address issues pertaining to erosion and water runoff has to be done prior to Noel being able to proceed with extracting the stumps. Noel felt with the current weather conditions, along with waiting on the completion of the environmental study, being able to remove the stumps may take two to three months to complete.

City Foreman Noel went on to say that the city’s 1973 asphalt distributor is in bad shape and probably won’t work another year. He has located one which currently belongs to the state to replace the ‘73. He told the council Martin is first on the list to purchase the distributor. Noel also stated that the city pickups are showing their age and requiring more maintenance. He has been watching the Federal surplus site for a single cab, long box pickup.

The council gave Noel permission to use his discretion and trim any trees located on city property which are causing hazardous visibility problems.

The council entered into executive session. When they resumed, Councilman Claussen made a motion to promote Nick Lessert to Assistant Foreman, raise his wage to $15.50 and also gave their approval for him to get his water/sewer certifications.

Chief Petersen stated the police log for January. There were 78 calls for service, 163 total events logged with Winner dispatch, 18 arrests, 7 felonies – 3 of those being juveniles, and 11 misdemeanors – 1 being a juvenile.

Chief Petersen reported that the tasers the department is currently using will need to be replaced in the near future because the batteries and cartridges for their tasers are becoming obsolete.

Councilman Rascher stated he got approval from his chief to work with Chief Petersen to get the decals printed for the city police vehicles as needed. Once the police department is able to purchase the vinyl, inputting the data and printing the decals can be done quickly.

Councilman Gregg Claussen moved to change the renewal of the cable television franchise with Golden West Cablevision, Inc., Resolution 2021-1 to a term of 10 years rather than the 15 year term as written in Ordinance #167 which expires in March 2021. Councilwoman McCue seconded and the motion carried.

The second reading of the Junk Vehicle Ordinance was approved for publication.

A 1994 blue Chevrolet Suburban, belonging to the fire department was approved to be appraised and listed as surplus. Councilmen Rascher and Claussen along with Bill Kuxhaus will conduct the appraisal.

Discussion pertaining to two items listed on the February claims was held. Finance Officer Jean Kirk explained that claim #50 was paid to Drobny Construction for labor to take down an electric pole at the Bush property on School Street to avoid having it fall on someone. Mayor Rayhill questioned a credit amount to Northwest Pipe, claim #123. Finance Officer Kirk explained that the city had to return some curb stops because they weren’t the right ones. After the discussion, a motion was made and passed to pay the claims as presented.

– A budget supplement for the fire department for $3,126.92 for insurance proceeds and $19,075.16 for Cares Act Funding was approved and passed.

– The Finance Officer’s Report was approved and passed as presented.

– The USDA lagoon payment of $1,163.00 was approved and passed.

– Joyce Wilson posed a question to the council about the chicken wire fence that was put around the house at 201 Pugh Street. There was some discussion held but no action was taken.

– There were no building permits presented.

– Past due water bills were presented and there was a motion made and passed to handle them as usual.

With nothing else to address, the meeting was adjourned. The next regular meeting of the Martin City Council will be March 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the community room.

502 Second Avenue, Martin, SD 57551 • 605-685-6866 •