In MelBeach, code enforcement starts with a smile

From an overgrown lawn to an unsecured pool gate, the code violations found in a typical community can run the gamut, from unsightly to downright dangerous.

As Melbourne Beach’s new code enforcement officer, Jennifer Kerr understands some residents may be leery of someone checking for peeling paint or unkempt lawns, but she is quick to assure that she’s here to work with people and not against them.

“I always come at this with a smile,” Kerr said.

“People here have been very nice and it’s a really wonderful community.”

Prior to arriving in Melbourne Beach, Kerr spent over 20 years working for Brevard County in both animal services and enforcement, and as a lead code enforcement officer. She earned her MBA from Florida Institute of Technology and is professionally certified by the Florida Association of Code Enforcement.

While code enforcement is not a new position in town, in the past it was combined with the responsibilities of the town’s building official – and later taken on by the previous town manager.

Current Town Manager Robert Daniels says finding the right person for the job was essential.

“Having a code enforcement officer gives us the ability to work with residents to comply with the standards that the community has set through the code of ordinances,” Daniels said.

“The key is having the right individual who has effective communication skills, the sense of community, and the ability to educate our citizens on the requirements to maintain the quality of life in Melbourne Beach.”

Daniels says the town averages about 15 code enforcement complaints per month, with substandard yard maintenance as one of the most common violations reported.

Kerr’s position is part-time. She works 15 hours weekly, consisting primarily of nights and weekends.

The schedule allows her to perform random surveys at various times, making it hard for potential violators to plan around them.

A five-member Code Enforcement Board is also being organized.

“The desire of any code enforcement program is to gain voluntary compliance of the municipal code,” Daniels said.

“By doing so, the community will benefit by higher home values, a renewed pride in their properties, and an increase in the quality of life.”

Melbourne Beach Mayor James Simmons insists that generating more citations is not the goal.

“She and I believe that her primary responsibility will be to work with residents to achieve compliance with citations being only a last resort,” Simmons said.

“By once again having a dedicated code enforcement officer, we can ensure our residents consistent and proactive enforcement and therefore, fair application of our codes,” he added.

Article by: Jennifer Torres, correspondent

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