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The Code Enforcement Division, under the Police Department, enforces the property codes for the City of Palestine. The building codes for the city are handled by the city’s building inspector, a service of the Development Services department.
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Many property codes for the city can be found in the city’s Code of Ordinances, under Chapter 46 of the City’s Code of Ordinances. Other codes can be found in Chapters 40, 80, and 86.
The City of Palestine has three sworn Code Enforcement officers working in the Community Services department.
Code violations come in a variety of forms, from trash and debris, high grass and weeds, junked or inoperable vehicles on city streets, illegal dumping, no number signs on properties, and illegal signs that do not meet city regulations.
Code Enforcement complaints may be made in three ways. The first is calling the Hotline at 903-731-6003. Complaints may also be made in person to the Code Enforcement offices at City Hall. There is also an online Code Enforcement complaint form that can be filled out. Once entered, it is sent to the officers.
Code Enforcement complaints may be made anonymously.
The number of complaints varies between months, with the summer months receiving more complaints due to high weeds and grass. In June 2017, the department received 185 complaints from residents.
The first step Code Enforcement officers do is to go inspect the property and determine if the violations are against city code. Once the officer has determined that the property is against code, the officer will take photos of the property and attempt to reach the property owner or renter via the front door.
If there is no one in the house or on the property, the officer will then contact the property owner via regular and certified mail. The letter will explain the violation, and ask the owner or renter to clean the property up within 10 days. The letter also states that the property owner or renter can contact the Code Enforcement division if other arrangements need to be made.
In most cases, yes. After the 10-day period, the officer will then reinspect the property to make sure the violation has been remedied.
In this case, the property owner should contact the Code Enforcement division. Then, arrangements can be made with the property owner to get the property cleaned up. According to our officers, if a property owner makes reasonable attempts to clean the property, the deadlines can be extended.
If prior arrangements are not made with the property owner, and the 10-day period has elapsed, the property owner or occupant may be issued a municipal court citation and/or an abatement may occur by the city or a vendor with a lien filed against the property in order for the City to recoup any costs incurred for abatement efforts.
Code Enforcement officers are also on the lookout for signs that violate city ordinances, like signs for yard sales that are on utility poles, the signs that are more than five blocks away from the sale, or signs that are not picked up within 48 hours after the sale.
Signs on utility poles are a danger to utility workers, due to the nails and staples left in the pole after the sign is taken down. Code Enforcement officers send letters to the owners of the signs, usually through the location of the event or yard sale, and ask them to take the other signs down.
Further violations of the code may cause a municipal court citation.
Yard signs are fine in the city but need to be placed on the ground, and with the property owner’s permission. Yard signs cannot be placed in the right-of-way of streets, and have to be taken up within 48 hours of the event.
There are many ways to advertise your yard sale or event, including using free online resources, like Facebook, or purchasing advertising through local media outlets like the Palestine Herald-Press, KYYK-FM, KPBC-FM, or area TV stations.