Granby revisits town code as enforcement officer continues work
Rich Carlson started as Granby’s code enforcement officer in July 2018. It was a new position, and in the 16 months since then, he has worked with a goal in mind.
“Treat others the way you want to be treated and give help when help is needed,” Carlson said.
As the position has evolved, Carlson has made progress by approaching problems with this mindset.
“Overall, Granby is improving and is going to continue to improve,” Carlson said. “It goes easier with the help and participation of its residents.”
As Carlson continues beautification efforts, he says the code can become a barrier to enforcing certain violations. He referenced the legal jargon and archaic language in some parts of the code where definitions could be better.
This is a concern Granby resident John Rankin brought to the town board meeting last week.
“What I would like the board to do is have the attorney interpret these codes, see what’s enforceable and what’s not enforceable,” Rankin told to the board. “What’s not enforceable, let’s either throw it out or augment it so it is enforceable.”
Rankin pointed to provisions in town code referencing refuse, rubbish and trash as the parts he believes need the most work.
“We’ve got a lot of code, so on my end I just want to see clearer and more precise definitions,” Carlson said.
According to town attorney Scott Krob, some parts of the town code have not been updated since the 1970s. With direction from the town board, the attorney could look at parts of the code and update it — but definitions can get tricky.
“There are certain areas of code enforcement that are more problematic than others,” Krob said at the town meeting. “Nuisance is one area. What constitutes a nuisance? How do you define it objectively? Trash is another: How do you define what is trash and what is just a collectable?”
Carlson said one of the biggest challenges he faced entering the role was building a code enforcement unit from the ground up using a code that had not been enforced.
As part of dealing with that challenge, Carlson built up an arsenal of local resources to help residents get rid of refuse that may be violating code. Those resources include Rocky Mountain Warriors, the Granby Transfer Station, Grand Fire Protection District, Clive Smith and Harms & Sons.
“Without those resources, I would have had a hard time doing my job and that would have put an extra burden on the property owners,” Carlson said. “Those resources deserve a big thank you.”
The town board and public spoke highly of these processes, which not only boost the town’s image, but do so by solving issues residents might be facing. Hopper Becker was one resident who praised Carlson at the meeting.
“You have to be really careful, in my opinion, about telling people what they have to do with their little castles,” Becker said. “I think Rich has done a very good job of that. He’s approached me very respectfully.”
Board members agreed it would be worth revisiting the code.
“We certainly run into a problem that if we have rules on the books that we don’t enforce, it does create a challenge down the road,” Trustee Natascha O’Flaherty said.
The board gave legal direction to the town attorney to look at specific refuse, rubbish and trash ordinances. However, a few Granby residents attending the meeting said the town code should not go too far.
“I understand that by choosing to live in town I come under the auspices of the rules and regulations, but at the same time I own my property,” Becker said. “That is my little piece of America that’s mine. Nobody else’s.”
This is something Carlson said he tries to be aware of when doing his job.
“You just have to find that balance between what the town wants and what’s good for Granby,” Carlson said. “I keep what’s good for Granby in mind.”
In his time as code enforcement officer, Carlson said the biggest areas where he sees violations are snow removal, overnight parking, vehicles that don’t run and “general good neighbor stuff.”
For the most part, Carlson said he only has to reach out to property owners once for a violation to be fixed. Most interactions are “good neighbor requests,” with him knocking on the door or sending a letter to property owners who don’t live in town asking for violations to be fixed.
“Code enforcement is not an overnight fix,” Carlson said. “It’s an ongoing process.”
Carlson continues to bolster his role in the community, focusing on outreach, updating the town code website and making the code more available and user friendly.
“Thank you for respecting our rights as property owners and individuals, and thank you for continuing to respect that,” Becker said to the town board. “And guess what? I’m going to try to respect the town back by continuing to improve my property.”
Editor’s note: This story has been edited to reflect the correct name of Rocky Mountain Warriors.
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