City Discusses Need to Update 2006 Property Maintenance Codes

AJ City Council also approves N. Idaho Rd. improvements and home detention and monitoring program

By Bill Van Nimwegen

The Apache Junction City Council met last week in a work session on Monday, November 5 and a regular session on Tuesday, November 6.

Monday, November 5
On Monday night, Larry Kirch, Director of Development Services, and Dave Zellner, CBO, Building and Safety Manager, presented proposed changes to the city’s property maintenance code, which was last amended in 2006.

According to staff, code compliance is important to the community because: it improves the quality of life for residents; it is good for both businesses and neighborhood livability; it promotes stable property values; it promotes a healthy community; compliance reinforces city expenditures for infrastructure (e.g. streetscaping the “Trail”), and it improves the community image.

The city now has three full-time code compliance staff, and it was noted that violations are up 10-fold.

In the past, Apache Junction City Council has directed staff to amend the code to be at least as strict as neighboring cities in regard to garbage, inoperable vehicles, debris, trash accumulation and structural conditions. To that end, Kirch and Zellner are recommending changes that will reflect current state law and elevate the community.

Issues involving vehicles were split into several areas: major and minor vehicle repairs and major and minor vehicular body repairs. The goal will be to allow responsible citizens to work on their vehicles, while preventing the storage of wrecked, damaged or inoperable vehicles.

Another area covered was the accumulation of trash in some yards, alleys etc. Staff suggested that, in order to eliminate the unsightly and unhealthy problem, all garbage would need to be kept in approved receptacles. They would need to be sealed against insects, odors and leakage, as well as easily cleaned.

Additionally, the staff recommends the fines for violations be raised from $250 for the first offense to $350, and from $500 for the second offense to $600. The third offense within a 24 month period will become a criminal offense with a fine of $1,000.

The Council will have another work session on this issue before voting on the code changes line-by-line. They also decided, if passed, there would be a three to six month education outreach before the code goes into effect.

The Council also heard a presentation and held a discussion on proposed Ordinance No. 1466 authorizing the Apache Junction Municipal Court to implement a home detention and electronic monitoring program.

According to a staff memo, “home detention occurs when a defendant, instead of serving their sentence in jail, is sentenced to electronic home monitoring by the court.” Electronic home monitoring requires a defendant to wear an ankle device that transmits a signal detailing its location. Home Detention is voluntary for the defendant and provides an alternative to being held in the County Jail.

Presiding Magistrate James W. Hazel said that the city budgets more than $290,000 each year for jail costs relating to incarceration of the misdemeanants it prosecutes. In Fiscal Year 2017-2018, the city of Apache Junction paid $343,288.88 in jail fees to Pinal County.

The advantage of home detention to the court is reduced jail costs. The defendant benefits by being allowed to travel to and from work and other necessary appointments.

The cost of home detention is assessed to the defendant in addition to any fines and fees imposed. The item will be voted on at the November 20, 2018 meeting.

Also discussed on Monday and later approved unanimously as part of the Tuesday night consent agenda was a N. Idaho Rd. reconstruction.

The project was not identified in the Fiscal Year 2018-19 Street Maintenance Plan, but staff wanted to substitute this project for the Plan’s “Ironwood Overlay” and the “Spring 2019 Slurry Seal” projects that would then be moved to next fiscal year.

This change is in response to needing this portion of Idaho Road reconstructed before survey work can begin for a near future grant for further improvements along the corridor–which would include bike lanes. The segment of Idaho Road to be reconstructed is from Lost Dutchman Blvd. to McKellips Rd. for a total amount not to exceed  $566,916.09, including a 10% contingency.

The project would be funded with the city’s street sales tax and HURF monies.

Also discussed at the Monday work session and approved the next night at the Tuesday regular session was a contract for the preparation of the five year, state mandated update of the Development Fee Study: Land Use Assumptions, Infrastructure Improvements Plan and Development Fees, as well as an update to Volume II, Chapter 7, Development Fee Ordinance.

Five proposals were received, and staff recommended the award to TischlerBise for the base bid of $68,600.

Also on Monday, there was a discussion for on-call architectural, surveying and engineering consulting services for Public Works On-Call Services in 2018. The three areas covered by these services are General Civil Engineering, not to exceed $300,00; General Survey, not to exceed $100,000; and Geotechnical Services, not to exceed $100,000. These are three year contracts that will save city staff the time that was used in the past to prepare individual contracts.

Public Works Manager Shane Kiesow gave the Council an update of Pinal County Multi-jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan. This plan was prepared to guide planning to better protect people, property, community assets and land from the effects of hazards.

There were also presentations and discussions on bid responses received for public defender services. Both federal and state law require the appointment of legal counsel to those who cannot afford an attorney when charged with a crime that could result in jail time. The selected attorneys will be paid $2,225 per month and are required to represent up to 165 clients per fiscal year. Contracts will be in effect from January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2020.

Tuesday, November 6
Mayor Jeff Serdy read a proclamation designating November 8th, 2018, as “Law Enforcement Records Personnel Appreciation Day” and presented it to AJPD Chief Thomas Kelly on behalf of the records department. The proclamation honors those who serve to link the community with law enforcement and make the community a safer place.

Community Alliance Against Family Abuse (CAAFA) board member Sharon Stinard introduced the council to CAAFA’s new Executive Director, Ray Villa.

There was also a presentation, discussion and update from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Leon Thomas, Phoenix District Manager; Edward Kender, Lower Sonoran Field Manager; and Darrel Monger, Lower Sonoran Desert Monument Manager, provided updates on their current work in our area, including recreation and public purpose projects.

City Council meetings are open to the public and held in chambers at 300 E. Superstition Blvd. in Apache Junction. The meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. Complete agendas and supporting materials are available at

Photo above: Dave Zellner, CBO, Building and Safety Manager, presented proposed changes to the city’s property maintenance code.

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