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City to patrol for code violations

Winchester city commissioners voted Tuesday to explore using a person to patrol the city for code violations.

The proposal, which was approved unanimously, would use the Winchester Police Department’s parking enforcement officer with additional duties concerning property codes and enforcement.

Winchester Police Chief Kevin Palmer and City Manager Matt Belcher said they had discussed the idea for some time.

“This is an option,” Palmer said.

The employee, Rebecca Power, is an 19-year veteran of the police department and is already used to writing citations, Palmer said, though that is not the desired result.

“Your goal is to cite no one,” he said. “The goal is compliance.”

If the proposal works, it would save the city the expense of filling a vacant code enforcement position.

Palmer suggested trying the new plan for a couple weeks to see if it works.

“I’m just happy we’re trying something different because what he had before did not work,” City Commissioner Shannon Cox said.

Previously, the city did not actively investigate property code violations, but responded to complaints from the public. Cox said there were times he reported problems multiple times over several weeks and they was never resolved.

Earlier this year, the commissioners voted to amend the code enforcement ordinance to require property owners or residents to call Winchester Municipal Utilities within 24 hours to schedule picking up a large item. If they do not call, the city would pick up the item or items, issue fines and bill the party for the costs involved, Belcher said.

Later in the meeting, Belcher shared that the Sphar building renovation project has been advertised for bids. The 21-day bid period opened July 13, when the advertisements began running. Belcher said he hoped to open the bids in early August.

The former seed warehouse sits on North Main Street and Depot Street, and has been vacant and deteriorating for many years. Between the city and Clark County, about $1.9 million in grants have already been secured to partially finance the project.

Plans call for converting the 27,000 square-foot building into a welcome center for the city, office space for the chamber of commerce, industrial development authority and tourism commission, among other uses.

In other action Tuesday, the commissioners:

— approved a resolution for the retirement of city treasurer Debbie Bailey.

— approved the lists of streets to be paved and milled, and those for crack filling and sealing.

— approved an agreement with Kentucky Bank to accept property at 49 Oliver St. in exchange for abating taxes owed on the property.

— accepted the resignation of Jerry Fryer from the local codes appeals board and appointed Todd Wilson to a three-year term on the local codes appeals board.

— reappointed Amy Evans, Debra Parr, Lisa Vincent and Sherri Richardson to three-year terms on the Main Street Winchester board.

— reclassified Christopher Wilson from firefighter III/EMT to firefighter III/paramedic.

— reclassified Shonda Morgan and Kayla Carr from communications officer III to communications officer II.

— accepted the retirements of Sgt. Michael Perkins and Capt. Howard Frick from the Winchester Police Department.

—accepted the retirement of Larry Bowling from Winchester Fire-EMS.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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