Upset about the city’s proposed new code revisions and the implementation of a Development Services Director, members of the community who are calling themselves a “watchdog group,” have organized a public forum where the codes will be discussed.
The forum will be at 7 p.m. on March 6 at City Hall, in the City Council Chambers. All those attending will receive a copy of the new codes.
“People all over Benson and the San Pedro Valley have been hearing talk about the new Chapter 7 codes, but not everyone knows what these codes are,” said J.T. Moffett, who opposes the codes and is one of the forum’s organizers. “So the need for a public awareness forum is crucial to present these Chapter 7 codes to the public in their entirety and without prejudice.”
One of the biggest concerns that opponents of the codes have, is language they believe levels criminal charges against citizens whose properties are not in compliance with the codes and who fail to meet specific compliance timelines set by the city. In addition, they fear the “Development Services Director” title gives the city Building Official Luis Garcia “unprecedented authority.”
However, Garcia refutes that claim with: “On the subject of authority, the new proposed city code revision does not furnish more authority than is already present in the currently adopted city code. For example, one concern presented…was the lack of a definition for probable cause. In section 9-2-4(B) of the existing code the language is: ‘Screened exterior areas shall be inspected only during the normal business hours of the city unless otherwise arranged, and only upon invitation or with the concurrence of the occupant, owner or agent for the owner when the premises are unoccupied, or when ordered by the court when probable cause exists to believe that conditions may be detrimental to the health, safety and economic or general welfare of the public.”
Garcia goes on to explain that the proposed code revision uses the term “reasonable cause” which he is currently seeking to define, at the direction of the council, in order to answer concerns expressed by the public.
Meanwhile, Moffett has circulated a statement that says, “The citizens of Benson have been victims of a propaganda campaign designed to lure them into believing lies regarding the proposed Ch. 7 codes. We have been told by Luis Garcia and the voting block on City Council that they will give the people ‘more protection’ and that ‘we need these new codes.’”
Garcia says the city code is outdated and in desperate need of revision. He points to several meetings and public work sessions where the update was presented and discussed, questioning why members of the community are coming forward with objections just as the proposed revisions are presented to the council for approval.
For information about the Chapter 7 forum, call (520) 686-1724.
To view the code updates, go to the city’s website at www.cityofbenson.com and click the yellow box at the bottom of the webpage.