Spring always brings a number of challenges for staff at the city's Department of Development.
It's the time of year when the phone rings off the hook as complaints pour into the office, which means code officers travel throughout the city's neighborhoods to check things out.
Since it's been a while since the Housing Corner has appeared, code officers wanted to highlight a few code compliance "basics" that city property owners and tenants should be always aware of:
Bags of garbage and other debris such as old sofas, interior chairs and tables, tires and auto parts, appliances, metal, cardboard boxes, clothing, etc., cannot be stored anywhere the exterior lot or on porches. If you have such items in sight when an inspector gets a complaint and comes to the property, you will receive an appearance ticket for Jamestown City Court.
Even things such as large quantities of children's toys and bicycles can be considered debris and leaving them in the yard or on a porch can result in a citation.
Also, you can't store trash receptacles and recycling containers in the front of your home or on a front porch. These must be stored at the rear of the property and removed from the curb on the same day after the Board of Public Utilities conducts a scheduled pickup. All trash containers must have tight-fitting lids on them.
Finally, any type of animal waste in a yard must be picked up daily and disposed of in a proper manner. You will receive a ticket for city court if inspectors view waste material on your property once a complaint is filed.
You can't store any unlicensed or unregistered vehicles (cars, trucks and SUV's, motor homes, ATV's, snowmobiles, go-carts and cars designed for racing) on exterior property. If cited, the code allows just seven days to remove them or the department will arrange to tow them at your expense.
All vehicles must be "street legal", which means valid license plates on the front and rear and current registration and inspection stickers on the windshield.
If you wish to store an unlicensed vehicle, it must be placed inside a garage of a suitable size. As for boats and trailers, you may store just one of each on a property and they must be placed at the rear of the lot.
You cannot repair or store any dismantled vehicle on a residential property unless it is inside a garage and is registered to you. You also can't perform auto repairs as a business in any residential area. The state DMV can impose costly penalties if you are caught.
You must obtain a building permit from the department if you are going to replace your primary roof (city code and New York State law requires it), install or replace a fence, build a new deck or a new addition or if you do anything on the inside or outside that will change the structure. This includes removal of interior walls, moving a door to a new location, making significant changes in design of a kitchen or bathroom, etc. If you're not certain, don't guess., call the building inspector at 483-7659.
All exposed siding and trim on a home must be covered with an appropriate coating such as vinyl or aluminum siding, paint or stain. Decks, wood fencing, railings, steps, wheelchair ramps must also be painted or stained. Using just a water-sealing product is fine for protection, but it doesn't meet the code requirement for painting or staining.
Grass and/or weeds on a property that exceed 6 inches in height will be cited if a complaint is filed. Overgrown weeds and shrubs can also by cited.
This is just a sampling of the most frequent code issues the department deals with. There are many more. For more information, call the department at 483-7541 any weekday.