Greenbelt to perform comprehensive update of its code

greenbelt councilGREENBELT – After just more than 30 years of stagnancy, the city has decided now is the time to update its code.

The city awarded Municipal Code Corporation with $12,450 contract for recodification of the city code, with the process estimated to take 12-15 months to complete. Municipal Code Corporation will conduct an editorial analysis and legal review of the current code to identify any conflicts or duplications, to Mayor Emmett Jordan said the city has not performed a comprehensive review of the code since 1984, and that an update is “past due.”

“This is something that is generally done every decade. So we’re actually overdue for this update,” Jordan said. “The vendor will repair one code revision ordinance for adoption by city council.”

Once Municipal Code Corporation completes the recodification, it will also hosting the code on the city’s website, Jordan said, so it can be updated quickly and allow for easy access by city residents. The city will not have to pay for the first year of hosting, but in following years will pay Municipal Code Corporation $995 annually.

Jordan said the city will review the hosting service after one year. If the city chooses to drop the online service, he said, then the city will maintain the code itself on the city website.

The council selected Municipal Code Corporation from city staff’s recommendation, Jordan said, because of the familiarity with the company.

“They have been a vendor for the city code in the past and staff has been very satisfied with their services,” Jordan said.

Mayor Pro Tem Judith Davis said the city’s code is completely out of date. The city’s code has had an issue with obsolete functions, Davis said, for the last three or four years.

“I’m glad that we’re finally getting to this because what originally brought this up is that there is a whole section on bicycle rules that are so obsolete we don’t even enforce them,” Davis said. “So I’m assuming that conflicts and so forth we’ll include will be removing obsolete language.”

To remove obsolete language in the code and make sure all policies included are up to date, City Manager Mike McLaughlin said, the city will send the code out as it is being developed to different enforcement departments to make sure that everything included in the code are things that are still essential and enforced.

“The intent is to take each section and to send it out to the appropriate department and have them take a full review of any section they are primarily responsible for,” McLaughlin said. “They’ll make comments like ‘take this section out’ or ‘we don’t do this anymore’.”

Bill Orleans, a Greenbelt resident, said he does not know if the comprehensive update of the city code is really necessary. When there are changes to the code, council can pass an ordinance that changes what previously existed in the code. Addendums would be added and sent out to those who have the code, Orleans said, and those addendums that are mailed will tack on extra costs.

“I actually just don’t know if this is necessary. This is a paltry amount of money,” Orleans said. “I just don’t know that it is necessary. If the city can update the code via addenda then why do we need this?”

The city has been receiving supplemental updates on the city code throughout the three decades without a comprehensive update, City Clerk Cindy Murray said, but each update costs “a couple of thousand dollars.”

Murray said the city has performed 18 previous updates in the last 30 years, but none of them were comprehensive. It becomes more costly to perform multiple updates instead of doing them in bulk, she said. 


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