West Orange Council hears more concerns of recent ordinances

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WEST ORANGE — Ordinance 414 and Ordinance 230-H remain a concern for landlords in the city of West Orange. The ordinances were passed in April by the council but landlords are saying they were not aware until receiving a letter concerning the changes.
Ordinance 414 requires an annual registration and inspection of residential rental properties. An annual registration and inspection per dwelling fee is $50 while a re-inspection fee is $25.
Ordinance 230-H requires every owner of every active business or occupied residence within the city of West Orange to be enrolled with garbage pick-up service. The ordinance also reads, “It shall be the responsibility of the commercial tenant to acquire sufficient sanitation service for said occupant.”
Two landlords were scheduled to give a presentation of concerns pertaining to the sanitation ordinance but were not present at the Monday evening meeting.
Pete Amy, an owner of rental property in West Orange, requested the two ordinances be rescinded during the citizen comment section of the meeting.
Texas Open Meeting Act does not allow the council to discuss items not on the agenda but does allow a person to be directed to the appropriate department head to address the questions.
“I have asked repeatedly to bring the ordinances back to discussion or public workshop,” Amy said. “No one on the council has contacted me.”
Amy said the ordinances have several gray areas which need to be addressed.
“What if a tenant takes the garbage can with them?,” Amy said. “No one has asked any questions. My representatives in the city have not contacted me. Instead the ordinance is shoved down the landlords throat.”
David Griffith said he bought houses to rent in West Orange.
“I knew nothing about this until I received a letter in the mail,” Griffith said. “There are so many run down houses in West Orange, you need someone to buy and fix them up.”
Amy and Griffith were invited to speak privately with Mayor Roy McDonald, Code Enforcement Officer Dean Fuller, or with Chief of Police Michael Stelly.
“I don’t think they want rent houses in West Orange,” Amy said after the meeting. “They want to be affluent like the Woodlands. They need to partner with the landlords, not make enemies.”
Amy said he has collected several signatures on a petition requesting the repeal of the ordinances.
“I have heard rumors the council will not accept the petition,” Amy said.
Other cities passed similar ordinances which turned into class action lawsuits according to Amy.
“I would rather be peaceful about this than go to court,” Amy said. “We want to make the best community that we can. We need to work together and not pull against each other.”
West Orange Code Enforcement Officer Dean Fuller owns rental property within the city.
“Harry Vine in Pinehurst inspects my rental property,” Fuller said. “He did one for me last week.”
Vine is City of Pinehurst Code Enforcement Officer.