Kanab City Building Inspector Russ Keller was asked by Mayor Nina Laycook at the September 14 Kanab City Council meeting to explain his concerns regarding health and safety issues pertaining to what was termed, broken houses.

The term was applied to the physical status of a dwelling.

The burned out house on Chamberlain Dr. in the Ranchos, which has been vacant and unrepaired for two years, was cited as an example of a broken house. The building has attracted juveniles to trespass on it and has become what legally might be termed an attractive nuisance.

The city has codes to deal with potentially unsafe items on a person’s property, but not when the item is the house itself. Citizen complaints have been raised about this and other houses in town that are in such disrepair as to be considered hazardous to the health and safety of the occupants.

The mayor asked Keller what he would propose to do to circumvent the health and safety issues these dilapidated houses pose to the community. Keller said there were two documents he knew of that addressed these issues; the Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings (1997) and the International Property Maintenance Code.

“We need to do something to correct these situations, but what we can do now is very minimal and these buildings do present potentially significant health and safety issues,” said Keller.

The mention of government sponsored documents and what some perceived to be more intrusion into their lives by the government when Keller said he was concerned for renters in run-down dwellings “where the toilet leaked so bad it was ready to fall through the floor” and there should be some way to address these situations, brought on a cacophony of protest from a dozen people present.

“It’s just another instance of government getting in your face again,” said Sandra Saint. “If my toilet leaks, it’s my problem not the government’s,” she exhorted repeatedly.

Councilman Tony Chatterley tried to explain the documents cited were a starting place to look at how the council should possibly address these issues. “We don’t start from a blank slate,” said Chatterley. “These are guidelines we can utilize to formulate codes particular to Kanab’s concerns.”

Kanab City Attorney Van Mackelprang said, “Codes can be reviewed and those that may be useful to our particular situation can be useful and utilized according to our needs.”

“We don’t need to have federal policies determine what we should do in Kanab,” said Saint.

Writer’s note - With seemingly every reply and response by Keller, and the council being interrupted by another tirade from a member of the dozen TEA party members present, this writer, acting only as a citizen, had enough and confronted this group saying their agenda was political, and did not specifically address the issue before the council. I also said I felt they were harassing the council on a wider subject (federal involvement in local affairs) than was actually being considered (health and safety issues related to abandoned or severely neglected houses). Of course, this initiated further discourse, which got a little heated, prompting Police Chief Tom Cram to intervene and settle things down. Civility was restored.

Councilman Ed Meyer commented, “We don’t have to address all the subjects spoken of tonight, but should focus on one or two we feel are important at this time and research those for possible solutions to bring to the attention of the public for review before adopting any of them.” This seemed to sit well with everyone and closed the discussion for now.

The council, minus the excused councilmen Steve Mower and Shaun Smith, voted to adopt the addendum revising the agreement between Kanab City and the Kane County Water Conservancy District. These entities will be co-opting to supply a second source of culinary water to the city in the near future.

Kanab’s 2010 chip and seal road project was awarded low bidder, Lamb Paving, for $200,000 at $1.68 a square yard.

Lyle Heyborne was highly recommended for a position on the Kanab City Parks and Recreation Board, and was appointed to that position by the council.

Mayor Laycook noted 300 documentary film applications were submitted to the first annual DOCUTAH Film Festival to be held at movie theaters in St. George, Springdale and Kanab, between September 16 and 24.

The city gave the six full-time Kanab police officers tickets to the showings as an appreciation of their sustained efforts to protect Kanab’s citizens.