The Williams City Council introduced an ordinance on Feb. 20 that will make it a crime for people to remove an official notice left on their property by a building official.
The ordinance, if approved, would also attach civil penalties to property owners who maintain, allow, or cause any property, building, or structure to become a public nuisance, dangerous, or unsafe.
Stop Work Orders, commonly referred to as red tags, are notices typically left by the city’s building inspector on property where work is being done without a building permit, work that is in violation of state or local building codes, or work in violation of the municipal codes and zoning ordinances, said City Administrator Frank Kennedy.
“These red tags are stop work orders that often have to do with the inhabitability or potentially dangerous situations of the buildings, and we have to notify the public of these situations,” Kennedy said. “When the red tags are removed, the public does not know that a potential hazard exists.”
Kennedy said in the past few months there have been occasions where the notices were removed, including on property that was shown to prospective renters.
“Those are bad situations and we want some penalty to be enforceable when these red tags are removed,” Kennedy said. “We need some teeth. We need it to be a misdemeanor.”
If the ordinance is passed, anyone convicted of removing a red tag could pay a penalty up to $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense, and up to $500 for each subsequent offense, according to the municipal code.
“If there is a stop work order, we need those to remain on the building,” Kennedy said.
The ordinance will be before the City Council at their March meeting. Once approved, removing red tags would become a crime in 30 days. ■