Complaints trigger code-violation talk in East Bethel

The East Bethel City Council July 16 reviewed a code-violation report following a budget-related discussion earlier this month on whether to add a part-time employee to manage increasing complaint calls. The council must decide on the position before it passes a preliminary budget in September.

City Administrator Jack Davis said the city spent 60 hours of staff time managing the 40 complaints that have been called in since April 2. He said East Bethel has investigated 136 complaints since April of 2012. Of those, 16 were not actual code violations. The report says the average number of monthly calls for the past two years is about 15.

Councilmember Heidi Moegerle said people sometimes ask if city officials or council members go looking for violations. Discussion made clear that only complaints prompt a code-violation investigation; nobody patrols the city looking for them.

The members acknowledged that people are likely to sometimes see city and county staff or elected officials visiting sites or neighborhoods for many types of public business.

The East Bethel City Council took other action at its July 16 meeting:

– Agreed to re-inspect the property of Steve Eliason, who complained at the July 16 meeting that the city prevents him from getting needed financing by finding his used-auto business non-compliant; discussion revealed a years-old issue of the city asking him to store fewer vehicles there and remove old tires and oil containers, which Eliason said he has done.

– Heard Fire Chief Mark DuCharme give the June fire report, which included a pole-barn fire started by metal-cutting sparks and mutual aid to Oak Grove for a house fire started by hot ashes in a trash can that killed no people but claimed pets’ lives; DuCharme said the house fire drew a quick and well-coordinated response from the multiple departments that cooperatively fight fire in the region.

– Listened to the June area crime report, which included one fatal car accident, an increase in stolen license plates, three DWI arrests, 19 thefts, four burglaries, five property-damage reports, one arrest for methamphetamine and one arrest for disorderly conduct after a man became enraged at a school bus carrying children.

– Proclaimed Aug. 5 East Bethel’s Night to Unite, a casual community-wide gathering aimed at preventing crime and increasing public safety.

– Learned that a citizen had sent a letter praising Mayor Bob DeRoche for helping and staying until family arrived after her vehicle stalled on the highway.

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