The threat to Joplin area property rights wasn’t eminent domain, at least so far. It was a proposal pushed by the new city manager brought in from a more liberal locale to adopt a building code that would impose stricter building requirements, require city inspections of any property sold and require that all properties, regardless of age, be brought up to current code. Joplin has always worked under a system where properties are “grandfathered” to the code when they were built except that electrical renovations required rewiring to current code before power could be reconnected. The combination assured that the vast majority of property owners were stuck, unable to sell their property without renovations that, whether truly needed or not, could cost thousands of dollars. A coalition of Joplin citizens, from some of the wealthiest to some of the poorest, presented the City Council with their answer. Considering that the new City Manager made the comment at the time of the Kelo decision that Joplin would only do something like that for an area that was “blighted” and this code would have defined half the city as blighted, it’s a good thing. Now property owners need to think about the next step for defending their property against this career bureaucrat’s bad ideas.
A petition drive aimed at forcing a referendum on Joplin’s new property-maintenance code appears to have succeeded.
On Tuesday afternoon, Jim Baine and other members of Citizens for a Better Joplin presented to City Clerk Barbara Hogelin what appeared to be a sufficient number of signatures that, if verified, would compel the council to repeal the code or put it to a public vote in February or March.