3/31/2010 9:44:00 AM Enforcing codes, planning events all part of job Dewey-Humboldt officer
When the bank foreclosed on two new homes, a dumpster company decided to chuck its load and vacate the property, leaving this mess for D-H Code Enforcement Officer Gregory Arrington to issue a citation.
Gregory Arrington commutes from Queen Creek three days a week to work for the Town of Dewey-Humboldt where he wears two hats - Code Enforcement officer and Community Outreach coordinator.
When he came on board in July, Arrington said people told him the code enforcement in town was a standing joke.
"I think now a lot of citizens have embraced it," he said.
The nature of his job includes citing residents for unsafe structures, excessive debris, weed abatement, junk vehicles and abandoned buildings. Sometimes residents react unfavorably to a citation, which is something Arrington said "comes with the territory."
"I tell them, 'It's not me. It's your neighbors who have a problem, not me,'" he said with a laugh.
His easygoing demeanor when approaching residents achieves better cooperation than a more antagonistic stance might. In fact, Arrington provides a degree of flexibility when residents need more than 30 days to reach compliance.
Town Manager William Emerson said he appreciates Arrington's ability to take "a measured approach to come into compliance," and at the same time use organizational skills to keep things in order and on track.
"He is fair. When he sees residents making an effort, he is flexible with the time requirement. But at the same time, he follows up and keeps all of us accountable," Emerson said. "He makes the law relevant and keeps it fair."
Unless Arrington drives past a situation that he deems dangerous or unsafe, it is Dewey-Humboldt residents who generate complaints. Once he confirms a code violation, he sends an informal, or "friendly," letter advising the owner to correct the violation within 10-30 days. He keeps the first contact as cordial as possible.
If the owner does not resolve the situation within 30 days, a formal Notice of Violation goes out by certified mail, again requesting compliance with the town code. If needed, the town sends a second Notice of Violation with information about fines and court hearings, which is the town's last resort.
Arrington said only four cases since July have gone to a court hearing.
"Most residents and businesses will come in and talk. They take care of the problem, and we close out the file and send a thank you," he said.
In all four cases, the hearing officer found in the town's favor, Emerson said.
"Usually people don't even show up to fight it. They don't have an argument," he said. "If it's a question of being able to do it, we try to help them. It's when people are just not willing to try that things go to a hearing."
Arrington worked with the Town of Gilbert for eight years as its development service manager where he took care of all permits with a staff of ten employees. Prior to his move to Arizona, he worked with municipalities in Texas, and owned an architectural firm there; he has one now in Mesa. He said his building, planning and engineering skills made him a good fit for Dewey-Humboldt.
Sixty percent of his job is with community outreach, and Arrington has initiated several programs. He worked with students at Humboldt Elementary School during spring break on Box City teaching urban planning skills.
The Roving Dumpster, a three-month program, rolled out this past weekend with its first stop at the Town Hall parking lot.
A new recycling program began this week with a bin, also in the Town Hall parking lot, that is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Residents can go online to www.dhaz.gov for a list of acceptable items for recycling.
In addition to these programs, Arrington prepares quarterly brunches where community members can chat with the mayor and council members over breakfast at the Kate Garber Activity Center.
In April, he is planning a Health Week with different presenters, and a Government Day activity where high school students will stage a mock council meeting.