The recent headline “Cato Township blight complaint reveals problems with the process” had us believing that perhaps they were seeking a solution to long standing issues, such as where are notices being sent ( or perhaps why code officials are still chasing after banks and other responsible parties (when MuniReg can do it for them), however this article went in another direction.

According to the article, local residents had to pay $1,000 in court fines after being reported for blight on their property. Seeking clarity on the fine, the conversation let to a discussion regarding a “paper trail” regarding the complaint itself.

As there are communities that require a formal complaint, while others allow anonymous reporting, this conversation seems to be deflecting from the main issue. Regardless who filed the complaint there appeared to be a “blight” violation and that is the primary issue.

Granted, there is no universal definition of “blight” (see WSJ video). However, there are efforts underway in this particular county to bring some level of uniformity.

The article does bring up some valid questions.

Does it matter “who” reported a blight violation? Code officers are well aware that not all complaints are legitimate (i.e. neighbor squabbles lead to a fictitious complaint). A violation, fine etc. wont be issued without a physical inspection to see if the complaint is authentic and a violation of local code.

What is the best approach to the complaint process. Does anonymous complaints provide some level of protection against retribution? Is a “paper trail” needed from the initial complaint, or when (if) a violation is observed by the code official?

What can be done to further ensure equal enforcement (concern raised at the previous meeting, click here). Uniform guidance would be a good start.

To view the article, please click here.