By CLINT FOSTER
Mineral Wells residents had the opportunity at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, to voice their concerns about a potential new minimum housing code.
Although he said he, personally, did not see the need for one, Mayor Mike Allen made an executive decision to hold another public hearing on the matter. This came after Council Member Thomas Lively made a motion to do so and the council’s vote was split, 3-3.
The proposed Minimum Housing Code, recommended by a committee, was created to address the bulk of housing in Mineral Wells, including both rental and owner-occupied properties. City Manager Lance Howerton explained that the code is designed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the public by making properties meet a basic set of standards.
“What has brought this about is that we have a problem with the condition of our housing in this town,” Howerton explained. “We have an inordinately old housing stock, in some respects, that hasn’t been maintained as it should. What we want to do with this code is to address those [houses] that are aging, that need to be worked on and need to meet this minimum code before they become substandard.
That’s what this code would allow us to do; that’s what we really don’t have in place right now.”
The Minimum Housing Code program -- which is essentially a local version of the International Property Maintenance Code -- would set up a certificate of occupancy inspection program. Such a program would outline specific instances in which the city could inspect houses and make sure that they are up to code.
“We’re not going to nitpick everything to death, but just see if it’s basically in good condition and habitable,” Howerton said. “We have some houses we’re going to go into, I have no doubt, that are going to be a wreck and need to be repaired. This gives us the opportunity to get inside that house and tell that owner, be they a rental property owner or an owner-occupant, ‘Here’s what you need to do to meet basic code.’ This will get those houses upgraded, repaired and in some kind of decent condition.