FNSB hires Code Enforcement Officer, ending summer’s total lack

Published: Oct. 12, 2023 at 9:37 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - When a resident of the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) wants to report a code violation, they fill out a complaint with the Community Planning Department.

That’s when a Code Enforcement Officer steps in.

However, Interior Alaska found itself without a Code Enforcement Officer this summer. During that time, “I’ve been doing my best to handle the code enforcement cases coming in. Has been a bit of a challenge,” said Kellen Spillman, Director of FNSB Community Planning.

The list of complaints kept on growing over the summer. “When we don’t have staff, really no progress is made trying to work with these property owners,” he explained.

Community Planning has two positions for Code Enforcement Officers. Their job is to ensure compliance with borough code around the community.

Officers primarily enforce zoning regulations and those of the streets and sidewalk code.

According to Spillman, “One we really prioritize a lot is folks blocking public rights of way. These are public roads. They’re available to the public. The public should be able to use these roads and when someone blocks it, whether with a fence or with a number of abandoned vehicles, we really try to prioritize and keep these public roads open to members of the public.

Officers are authorized to issue citations, and are dispatched when a complaint is received by the borough. Spillman clarified, “We get complaints pretty regularly. We are 100 percent complaint-based code enforcement department, so we will not go out into the field looking for violations.”

As such, the job involves interaction with property owners to obtain code compliance. “The most common case type we have are folks that are meeting thresholds of what we call junkyards that have a number of items that the code defines as junk,” Spillman explained. Lower on the priority list are cases involving livestock in certain neighborhoods.

Until recently, the department only had one officer position. The second was added a year and a half ago. “To just put this in perspective, right now we have 470 open cases,” Spillman said.

Many of these, especially priority cases, date back a year or two, according to the director. However, he said, “We have current open cases from 1991.” This fall saw some relief, as one of the code enforcement officer position was filled in September. “Him and I are working to try and fill the backlog of investigations we’ve had,” continued the director.

The second remains open. Meanwhile, the department continues to prioritize health and safety cases involved rights of way being blocked.

Spillman made a comparison with the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough, which has a population of 113 thousand people compared to the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s 95 thousand.

The Mat-Su borough has four code enforcement officer positions, and two full-time right-of-way inspector positions.

Upon being hired, new FNSB Code Enforcement Officers are authorized by the borough mayor.