Portage ordinance enforcement changes going into effect

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Ordinance enforcement in Portage Township will now take an adjusted form.

PORTAGE TOWNSHIP — Residents may see changes in ordinance enforcement as officials prepare to start utilizing changes for blight enforcement.

The township’s approved municipal infractions ordinance will now have fines processed by a violations bureau but if the infraction is contested it is dealt with by the district court.

The notices are issued by township officials and fines paid to the violations bureau. In Portage the bureau consists of two township officials.

The change simplifies the process for the township.

“It expedites the issuance of fines instead of having to go through a much more convoluted process we can issue a citation immediately,” explained Supervisor Bruce Petersen.

Collection and contesting violations are handled by the court. If unpaid, the fines can also be levied against the property owners taxes.

Many townships around the state are moving towards using municipal civil infractions for ordinance enforcement, Petersen said. 

The township has been working towards the new method for a few years, re-writing a few ordinances to reflect the system. Fines have yet to be issued and Portage is just in the process of rolling the changes out in enforcement. Blighted buildings will be a major focus to start due to health risks.

“It’s sort of new and it’s sort of different but it’s a lot more effective than the old method,” Petersen said.

For residents who receive violation notices there will be time to take corrective action, however, municipal civil infractions have increasing penalties as violations continue.

Tickets can be answered in three ways, admitting responsibility, admitting responsibility with an explanation or denying responsibility and requesting an informal or formal hearing with the court.

The Bureau’s authority is limited to fine collection and not determining if a violation took place, instead, that is the role of the court.