A vocal crowd of area residents expressed concerns with the newly proposed rental inspection program for the city of Denison Thursday evening.
A number of landlords and a handful of renters expressed their grievances with the city about having rental properties inspected on an annual basis during an open forum held at City Hall.
The large number of people attending the public forum exceeded the capacity of the room in the council chambers with a number of individuals listening in the lobby.
One of those citizens was Brian Walker, a renter in Denison who addressed the crowd with an emotional plea to the city not to do anything that would raise rent.
“I am concerned about the unexpected fees and the expenses that are not being talked about,” she said. “I can’t afford that. If this goes into effect in January I am moving. I have already begun looking for property outside of Denison.”
Walker said she has lived in Denison her whole life and her family includes six generations of Denison residents. She also said she does recognize there are properties that need to be addressed, but there are already plenty of programs in place and educating tenants about the programs in place would help.
During the course of the meeting a number of citizens provided comments, and at one point the crowd was asked to raise their hands if they supported the proposal. Not a single hand was raised.
Denison Mayor Janet Gott, City Manager Jud Rex and Code Compliance Manager Robert Lay spoke before the crowd.
If implemented the program would begin requiring all rental properties to be registered with the city. Following registration, the properties would be inspected by the city’s code compliance department annually.
Gott said the city’s leadership was seeking public comment to ensure the program could be modified to meet the community’s needs and to alleviate citizen’s concerns.
“We understand this is a big change,” she said. “I want to be sure you understand this. This is in no way intended to be punitive. The city is not looking for perfection. If there is a better way, we want to find it. We’re hoping you’ve thought about this, not just that you’re against it, but you have ideas to make it work better.”
Rex said the city staff was encouraged by the turnout and the goal was to get input from all stakeholders.
“The Denison city leadership is not the know all end all as much as some of us want to think that,” Rex said. “At city hall we don’t know everything. To make the best decision for the community it takes the community to come together.”
The program was first presented to the Denison City Council at its preliminary budget workshop that took place April 15. Since then the city has refined the aspects of the program. The council is expected to discuss the issue at the July meeting with a recommendation from the city staff at that time.
“The city is committed to creating quality housing for all income levels,” Rex said. “We are creating a great quality of life here in Denison, that is the underlying driver for everything we are doing here.”
What do you think about the proposed rental inspection program? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know at RTodd@HeraldDemocrat.com.