Ballinger’s New Code Enforcer and Sign Tips
BALLINGER – A new Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) has taken over the helm of the town of Ballinger for the past two months. His name is Ezequiel “Zeke” Martinez, and Deputy Town Manager John Pierik says he came with heartfelt recommendations: “Zeke was recommended by members of the community and he contacted us directly about openings. At the time, we weren’t actively looking for a code officer, but we dove into his background because of the way he behaved. When it came time to make some admin changes, we had the luck of being able to bring Zeke aboard from where he was.
Pierik says they looked into Martinez’s background before hiring him: “We spoke with a former teacher from Zeke and asked him what they remembered about him. He said, “Zeke was smart as a whip, and one of the most protective students we’ve ever had.” I asked him what he meant by protective, and his teacher quickly replied, “Zeke Quickly figured out what the rules were, but figured out how to be compassionate. He watched over the little guys, the wall flies, and made sure the kid in the corner didn’t eat lunch alone. We knew that. was the epitome of how we wanted to move forward in enforcing the code, with someone who understood the rules but respected the community!”
According to Pierik, the city looked at Martinez’s experience before onboarding him: “Zeke came from a years-long career with a leading home inspection company specializing in insect control, structural damage identification, mitigation and protection. Zeke also has experience in the design and manufacture of structural components, and was selfless enough to devote a respected part of his life to service in the United States military with overseas deployments. Zeke holds a certificate under the TEEX training program code from Texas A&M University. gratitude and appreciation for the methodical implementation of local and national rules and regulations. Although there is some pushback, Zeke has a way of finding an amicable solution.
Martinez is seen as a nice guy by most people, willing to work hand-in-hand with the community to help educate everyone about the various codes and ordinances, as well as help resolve any violations,” Zeke said. a very strong presence backed by the local and national rules the city follows, but that doesn’t mean he lacks compassion or empathy He tried, tested and implemented an escalation model to make the process as easy as possible for our community to comply with. There has been groundwork for this foundation that dates back 18 months, and Zeke seems like a great candidate to bridge the gap between citizen and compliance.”
Perhaps Martinez’s greatest asset goes beyond his experience, “Zeke at heart is a very genuine and intelligent individual,” Pierik points out.
The Signs of Code Violation – Clearing Up Some Confusion
Recently, a few citizens have found signs of code violations in their yards. Questions flooded social media posts about everything from their legality to their intent. Pierik responded to the concerns: “We noticed that there was a lack of connection between the breach, the responsible properties and the communication process. We had exhausted a lot of time to find the right public property records, and by more time trying to find a way of contact for the responsible parties. This was particularly difficult on properties that were unoccupied, or when residents of a property were not home due to work, school or other commitments during City business hours.”
Much of what the city checks are properties reported by other citizens in the community. -fact we were trying, but unable to get answers without issuing a subpoena or official summons.”
Pierik says the city needed to find solutions to the problems it was facing: “We brainstormed ideas, contacted local businesses and programs about response resources, and ultimately determined that we needed a way to bridge the communication gap. This came across as an unresponsive attitude from our code department. This is where door hangers, stickers, contact cards and signage came into existence. We have already used contact cards in the police department for night visits and public interactions. we knew they were letting us know we were there and how to reach us. We had a good response from our door sheds on the water and sewer public information side. We knew there was a drive to seek out information and the community wanted us to work harder to increase our proactivity…but how?
The final decision was made to use signs placed in the courtyards of properties with violations, “Thus the signs were created to give not only the visual indication of a problem, but a reference to what was going on. The signs have the most common order violations listed on its back, and the front has space we can mark in the actual violation and how to reach us, who inspected the area, and what we found. sign is there, so several attempts have already been made to find a live person to speak to already! We have used a visual indicator on the sign that refers to 12”, the height stated by the ordinance that most sites are required to keep their vegetation shorter than. It was a way of saying… ‘Hey we noticed what’s going on, how can we come together to prevent this from getting worse’ without actually issuing a ticket or citation… but still being an official notice.
Don’t panic if you see a sign in your
Pierik says to call the city if you find a sign in your yard, but most importantly, “Don’t panic! Do not damage the sign! Do not remove the sign!
Pick up your phone and call 325-365-3511 and be prepared to give our awesome team on the front lines the address, your name, a call-back phone number, or even an email if you’d like to receive photos of the breach as published. . In many cases, they may be able to connect you directly with our code leads at the same time! Until you hear from us, don’t worry…You haven’t received a ticket, citation or subpoena…The sign is definitely an official communication and the property of the Town of Ballinger, and c This is an official notice, but there is no fine or court date attached to the sign. Texas law has very direct guidelines for law enforcement officials when dealing with these kinds of situations, and this is not it. What we’d like to do is find a time when we can come and meet you on site, a phone call isn’t always clear, and work with you on a plan to resolve what’s happening within a set timeframe WITHOUT it becomes a matter that has civil or criminal penalties attached to it! The town hall is reachable Monday to Friday, for the code we ask that you call between 9am and 3pm so we can start our day, but still leave room to schedule same day appointments before 5am if we can!
Once we can meet and sign a remedial plan, OURSELVES will remove the sign from the property, until then do not attempt to remove or damage it!
The way we run City Hall today is with an open mind to community design. We will do our best to arrange a time when we can sit face to face and listen to your concerns; we may not always have the best answer right away, but we really try to work WITH you as part of the solution. We don’t believe that heavy-handed application is the best action, we want you to leave a less-than-ideal situation with a sense of pride and ownership by not only improving your ownership…but improving the whole Ballinger community! “
The most common misconceptions about signs
One aspect that Pierik talked about was the most common misconceptions about signs, “
What do you think are the most common misconceptions about signs: “We have seen or been made aware of a huge misconception about large signs. We want to reiterate that these are not actual quotes; yes , they refer to legal fines and in some cases criminal penalties…but it is important to remember 2 key things: 1. This is not a citation as defined in Texas law and it does not 2. This is not a sign used for a single purpose Yes it has a measuring gauge on it but a larger part of the sign covers all building and construction standards property as a form of education and pre-enforcement than tall grass.”
Guidance on Prescriptions – Nothing New
Pierik gave some insight into why the city has stepped up its efforts to help clean up areas: “There seems to be an ongoing concern about property lines, grass, debris, runoff, etc. We don’t We can only follow what voters have indicated they support.or old advice has been reviewed and ordered.In over 2 years there have been no changes or additional new standards adopted other than changes to State and federal What has been around here for decades is standards for road width, a standard for homeowners liability points beside streets and lanes, and a set of health and safety standards. security that combine to determine which side of the property line is responsible for x, y, and z. The way the City has interpreted and summarized the most lax of them is this…again, we’re not not go aggressive, we We started at a minimum. From the point where the sidewalk meets the road surface to the opposite property line, or the center of a driveway if there is one is the maintenance area for the owner, this includes the cleaning of all debris, vegetation, runoff that is generated on this property in the driveway or on the roadway. The city will provide and maintain the surface of the road, but it is an integral part of the type of materials that have been used to build the roads, that the owners do not allow their vegetation to leave the boundaries of their yard and into the roadway or the street. You know, it’s kind of like spilling your drink on the dinner table… you wouldn’t just be cleaning the table because it’s the only thing you use in the room, you’d also be cleaning the floor it’s on. is reversed; because if you don’t do it right away, you’ll still have to do it at some point or it’ll cause you and take you out later.