It was an eyesore tour.
Hitting the road at 8:30 a.m. on a recent Saturday, a city bus filled with City Council members and at least a dozen staffers rumbled through areas of Mansfield that don’t made the “things to do and see” lists.
The bus wound its way past unkempt properties in the industrial parks in southwest Mansfield and past several crumbling homes. It lingered in front of homes with unscreened junk vehicles and with boats and motor homes parked in front of the garage. But it also stopped at new police facilities that are finished or nearing completion.
It’s been a few years since the city’s top officials have taken a bus ride to witness the worst code violators, including some old ones that are not easy to address because of grandfathering and other loopholes.
“Basically, we’re looking at the entire city to see what the needs are,” said City Manager Clayton Chandler.
Priscilla Sanchez, the code compliance supervisor and one of the city’s two compliance officers, served as the tour guide.
Councilman Cory Hoffman said information gathered from the tour could be useful enforcing and tweaking regulations.
“We have a code enforcement subcommittee trying to deal with some of these issues that come up from time to time when citizens have concerns about what’s going on in their neighborhoods,” Hoffman said. The purpose of the tour, he added, “is to put everybody in the same vehicle and drive around. That way we’re all looking at the same issues, understanding what the points of concern are.”
The bus stopped at a welding shop in a rusty metal building on Airport Drive. The property had areas of high weeds and a ragged motor home that some officials said appeared to be lived in, which could be a violation.
City Building Official Richard Wright noted that regulations on high weeds are not always easy to enforce. For example, regulations forbid weeds above 12 inches, “but it has to be over 50 percent of the property,” he said.
At a nearby stop, officials groaned at the sight behind a portable toilet service, a large lot filled with high weeds and scores of white-capped toilet stalls, not all of them standing. Some were reduced to components in a pile.
Hoffman said that there was an “abundance of porta-potties on that lot” but that the city would have to determine which, if any, regulations the business had violated.
“From a zoning standpoint,” he added, “it appears as a salvage as opposed to an operational business.”
When the issue of pig ownership came up, Hoffman was dismayed to learn that the porkers are not banned from any part of the city. In fact, he told Sanchez he didn’t believe it.
“Yes,” she countered.
“You’re kidding,” Hoffman said.
“No, as long as you have them contained,” she said.
Another issue for the subcommittee.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7100