New hearings officer to enforce building codes

October 26, 2016

Klamath County commissioners have put some bite back in their building codes after they approved an ordinance allowing a hearings officer to return to the county.

Approved during commissioners’ regular meeting Tuesday, the ordinance brings the county into compliance with a new Oregon law mandating the appeals process for those cited for building violations.

“This gives more teeth to the department so they can enforce regulations,” said Commissioner Tom Mallams.

Building Official Greg Seger said the county last had a hearings officer in 2010 and, though this was before his time, he understands finances played a part in eliminating the position. While his department’s budget played a significant role when considering how to fulfill the new state mandate, Klamath County was fortunate to partner with Oregon Tech to receive such services for free.

Services volunteered

Seger said Professor Sharon Beaudry, who teaches law and business management, will volunteer her services as hearings officer, alleviating a financial burden for the county. Beaudry will also have students in her law classes attend building code hearings to have a first-hand account of the process as it relates to their instruction.

Seger said hearings will be scheduled when a building owner receives a citation for a violation of county ordinance, which are issued after letters are sent to the owners directing them to correct violations. Seger said multiple violators have pending citations which, until now, the county has been unable to compel action on and said he expects Beaudry will have a full place when she begins as hearings officer.

Seger added Beaudry still needs to be appointed to the position by commissioners, which is expected to take place during an upcoming commissioner meeting. He said Beaudry will meet with county officials Thursday to review the forms and procedures specific to a hearings officer and, at that time, will submit her application for appointment.