City Inspectors Praise Community Court

Unsafe building conditions, improper fire extinguishers and apartments in a neighborhood where they don't belong.

Those issues are just a sample of the cases on Tuesday's docket at Biloxi Community Court.

You may recall Community Court was created early this year to deal directly with code enforcement and environmental issues.

And city inspectors say the new system is working well.

"You need to do that by five o'clock this afternoon. I want a plan on my desk in my office. They know where it is," said  Judge Dean Wilson, as he ordered a property owner to proceed with bringing his home into code compliance.

City inspectors say the man's house has been renovated as apartments in violation of zoning laws. They say Community Court is the new and quicker way of settling such code enforcement concerns.

"We're seeing a lot quicker response with code enforcement issues. As you've seen today, the fire department is getting some assistance on some of their inspections and things are moving along much more quickly than they had in the past," said City Code Inspector, Hank Rogers.

Two cases fire code violations went before the court Tuesday.

Improper fire extinguishers were the main concern of fire inspectors who took the owner of an apartment complex on Porter Avenue to Community Court.

Fire Inspectors say the court is a last resort.

Gerald Pickich is the city fire marshal.

"In most of the cases now, after we explain to 'em what's going to happen, we have most of them conforming."

The owner of an apartment complex on Judge Sekul agreed to upgrade his fire extinguishers to meet the code. But Claude Johnson says he was told by the city, years ago, that his extinguishers were fine.

"Now they come along and change the rules in the middle of the stream. And then they bring me to this kangaroo court and they won't let me say anything in my defense."

Resolving code enforcement violations can still take some time even with Community Court. Back in February, the first day of Biloxi's Community Court, an order was issued to demolish a house on Howard Avenue.  The demolition work began just this week.

But pursuing the case did end in action.

And that's why city inspectors are giving Community Court a thumbs up.