By Chris Agee
Mineral Wells City Council members voted Monday to open the application process for a seven-member minimum housing code committee. Rick Bennett was the only councilman present to oppose the measure after voicing some concerns about the committee's selection and implementation.
The issue was first discussed at a presentation by City Manager Lance Howerton to a group of local property owners last week at the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce.
He presented a similar overview of the idea Monday evening and the council meeting was open to public comment.
Howerton explained the formation of a minimum housing code ordinance in Mineral Wells was still in the proposal stage and all details he presented were merely suggestions.
He recommended adopting an amended version of the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code to govern declining housing, particularly rental properties, within the community.
The code was "written for applications worldwide," Howerton explained, and the city has proposed "amendments that would speak to our particular circumstance here in Mineral Wells."
He explained the reason behind a focus on rental property is an aversion to forcing homeowners out of their residences should they be unable to make needed improvements.
"We don't want to dislocate anyone," Howerton said.
During a slideshow presentation, he shared his recommendation for one- and two-family residential rental properties to obtain a certification of occupancy at the time of a utilities service change or within 12 months of the code's adoption.
Within 48 hours a code compliance inspection would be conducted and the owner would be given 30 days to make any necessary repairs with a possible 30-day extension, the city manager said.
Unless dangerous or unhealthy conditions are found, a prospective tenant would be able to move in immediately and the certificate of occupancy would last two years, Howerton added.