Over a number of months now, the Crawford Town Council has been trying to solve the problem of continuous complaints from citizens about code violations.
The town council has researched having a municipal court.
It brought in Lynn French, a municipal judge in Hotchkiss, Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee and Undersheriff Mark Taylor and town attorney Jim Brown.
The concerns of the council have been that citizens may call and complain to the town or call the sheriff, but are unwilling to sign a complaint against the alleged violator of town code, whether it's for barking dogs, dogs at large or noise problems. The council is also concerned about speeding cars and ATVs through town.
The cost of having a municipal court would be in paying for a judge. Lynn French charges $250 a month, but someone else could be less. Fees would be assessed to those found guilty of breaking town code. Those fees would go to offset law enforcement costs and the cost of the judge, with the remainder to the town.
A petition was submitted at the Jan. 15 Crawford Town Council meeting which was opposed to a municipal court and increased involvement by the sheriff that would involve higher costs to the town. However, citizens also want the sheriff to enforce municipal code.
No one on town council at any time has made a motion to establish a municipal court in Crawford.
Jackie Savage, town clerk, presented an idea from Pam Archer that would start a public awareness program to reduce the neighborhood disturbances. It would require a council resolution to initiate the program.
For example, if a citizen complained about a neighbor who has a barking dog or was making too much noise, the town would send a letter to the neighbor and explain the town's ordinances.
The draft resolution states, "The Town of Crawford finds it is in the best interest of public health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the Town to create a public awareness campaign of common neighborhood complaints ... There is a need to allow residents the benefits of autonomy and freedom from retaliation while allowing their complaint to be heard ... There is a need to allow violators to increase their understanding of the rules and regulation and resolve problems they may be unaware of."
The person bringing the complaint would have to "be responsible for knowing the evidence of the complaint such as date, time, owner, address. The complainant would not have to fear retaliation from a violator and may remain anonymous."
Then the alleged violator would be notified by the town with a letter with the applicable town law stated. The letter would also inform the person "that they are affecting someone's quiet enjoyment of life." The goal is for the person to have "the opportunity to accept personal responsibility and correct [the situation].
"This program does not change Crawford Municipal Code or its enforcement. It merely is an alternate resolution to neighborhood disturbances."
Savage presented to the council four sample letters that would be sent to alleged violators of town code. The letters explain the Public Awareness Program, offers helpful hints on how to take steps to resolve the problem and states the Crawford Municipal Code that pertains to the complaint. She provided letters on noisy animals, unreasonable noise, dogs at large and illegal operation of OHV, motorcycle, moped or snowmobile on designated roads and streets. She also presented a proposed ordinance to require all dogs to be registered within town limits. "At the end of the year you would have an actual number of the violations," Savage said.
She also stated that the town will not make any assumption of guilt for the person being sent a letter.
The trustees will review and discuss the latest suggestions for a Public Awareness Program kand dog registration at their February work session on Feb. 19.blog comments powered by Disqus