Watson Township seeking code enforcement officer

Pete Duncan has had to resign as code enforcement officer at Watson Township.

Watson Township is looking to hire a code enforcement officer, now that Pete Duncan has stepped down because of other work obligation.

The Township Board not long ago decided to hire a local enforcement officer because Professional Code Inspections seemed to be spread too thin to perform day-to-day duties. The board hired Duncan at $25 per hour plus mileage.

But now board members will have to wait a month until their meeting to consider applicants. Supervisor Kevin Travis said he doesn’t like waiting a month, but Trustee Michelle Harris reminded him that code enforcement had been done in Watson only sporadically for a lot longer than that.

Travis said he knows of a couple excellent candidates in Marni Mills, a retiring police officer and retired Plainwell officer Ken Christensen.

Trustee Jack Wood offered to help as a backup enforcement officer, a job he performs now for Cooper Township in Kalamazoo County and in Allegan. He said it would be improper for him to work full-time while serving as a township trustee, but could be available when the regular enforcement officer feels help is needed with certain clients.

A code or zoning enforcement officer is not particularly popular because of the nature of its function. Sometimes he or she can be in some danger when appearing on a homeowner’s property that features violations, such as junk cars, blight, health hazards and the like, which require cleanups or remedial actions.

Wood said, “It’s a thankless job, it isn’t easy. Sometimes it results in retribution. It takes a lot of time and you’ve got to be able to explain things and work with people who aren’t happy.”

He added that some rural residents who have been able to do as they please with their property consider any government interference to be attempts at land control. So the issue for them is “freedom.”

Allegan County Commissioner Gale Dugan, who did the job at one time in Otsego, said a code enforcement officer has to make certain the rules are made to insure health, safety and welfare of homeowners and residents.

The board is likely to see and hear from at least two potential candidates early next month.

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