After several months of debate — and a few more hours Tuesday — the York City Council unanimously passed a new law designed to tackle the city's trash and property-maintenance problems.
The Neighborhood Improvement Ordinance gives enforcement officers the ability to see a violation, issue a $25 ticket and hopefully get the violation resolved without the involvement of the court system.
A second offense warrants a $50 ticket, followed by a $150 fine on the third offense and $300 for a fourth and all subsequent offenses.
Until Tuesday's meeting, the proposal did not include a warning system. Councilman Michael Helfrich offered that amendment, and it was included after a 3-2 vote.
"I want to make sure that nobody is getting fines before they've been educated on what we're doing here," Helfrich said.
The warning applies only to violations on the offender's owned or rented property — grass taller than 10 inches or trash cans put out for collection too early, for example.
Warnings will not be given to people who dump trash on another person's property. When a warning is issued, the violator will also be given a copy of the ordinance.
Helfrich said he was concerned about new city residents being slapped with fines for violating laws they didn't know existed.
All of the violations included in the Neighborhood Improvement Ordinance are already illegal. Other examples of the violations that would be subject to the new ticketing system are failing to remove snow from sidewalks, allowing litter to accumulate and storing a junk vehicle.
The new ordinance would circumvent the need for summary citations, which often carry $100 minimum fines and sometimes require appellate hearings at district magistrate offices.
Instead, the city's "hearing officer" would have the authority to deny, uphold or modify the violation ticket.