The evolution of code enforcement in Nashua

Fiscal Year 1993-94

Three code enforcement officers worked alongside building inspectors as part of a 13-member Code/Building Department, one of three departments operating at this time under the umbrella of the Community Development Division. The code enforcement officer’s duties focused solely on enforcing the city’s housing code. According to the annual report data, department officials spent the last months of 1993 computerizing operations to improve the quality of inspections by targeting 4-8 unit dwellings which had the highest rate of violations. The new computer system was running by Jan. 1, 1994. After developing the computer database of “some 4,000 variables of housing code violations,” the compliance rate reached 70 percent, the report states.

Fiscal Year 1994-95

While still operating under Community Development Division, the city’s three code enforcement officers were shuffled out of the 13-member Code/Building Department into the nine-member Urban Programs Department. The change was part of a division-wide reorganization.

“The department focuses its efforts on inner-city neighborhoods and the downtown, to revitalize them and eliminate substandard housing and blighting influences,” city officials wrote. The annual report re-named code enforcement officers as “housing inspectors.”

Fiscal Year 1995-96

The city’s three-man housing inspector staff, while still operating as part of the nine-member Urban Programs Department, was reduced to two members when the chief housing inspector Robert Hatch retired in May 1996.

Fiscal Year 1996-97

After winning the title of “Best Place to Live in America” in Money Magazine for the second time in a decade, new Community Development Division Director Roger Hawk acknowledged the honor in his division report, citing a revitalized economy. Hawk added that the “economic strength is apparent in the statistics from the Planning Board and Building Department.”

The division report did not list housing inspectors under the Urban Programs Department where the inspectors were transferred to from the Code/Building Department less than two years prior, nor did it list any housing inspection data or statistics.

However, the report stated that the entire Community Development Division was reorganized in early 1997, “in order to place greater emphasis on enforcement of our housing, planning and building regulations.

“The new enforcement section will provide for more timely and consistent enforcement of the division’s regulations,” the division report stated.

Code enforcement officers remained employees of the Community Development Division, but by fiscal year 1997-98 the three-person team was again shuffled into another department, this time into the 18-member Planning and Building Department.

By this time, attorney Laura Games had filled the supervisory position left open with Hatch’s departure, taking on the title of Enforcement Prosecutor. Longtime inspector R. E. Miller had resigned by this time, and Nelson Ortega joined remaining inspector Thomas Malley in code enforcement duties.

The “housing inspector” title had been returned to “code enforcement” and the officers took on the additional responsibilities of enforcing zoning, site plan, wetland, and signage issues at that time. Regarding the reorganization of enforcement section of the department, the city’s 1997-98 annual report stated, “The enforcement process was streamlined, which has resulted in effectively cutting compliance time in half.”

Fiscal Year 1997-98

Three code enforcement officers, two officers and a supervisor, operated as part of the 18-member Planning and Building Department, one of two departments under the Community Development Division at that time.

Fiscal Year 1998-99

All information listed in the 1998-99 annual report about the code enforcement unit of the Planning and Building Department was a duplicate of the 1997-98 annual report information.

Fiscal Year 1999-00

Three code enforcement officers remained part of the 18-member Planning and Building Department, under the Community Development Division.

Officials with the unit filed an order in District Court to raze or repair the Bahama Beach Club at 238 Amherst St. Although the club was eventually destroyed, the situation prompted the decision to train code enforcement officers in personal safety training. One officer was trained for prosecution duties.

Fiscal Year 2000-01

Three code enforcement officers remained on the staff of the 20-member Planning and Building Department, under the Community Development Division.

In fiscal year 2002, under new director Kathy Hersh, the Community Development Division was again reorganized, this time into five separate departments: Planning and Zoning, Building, Urban Programs, Economic Development, and Code Enforcement.

Since 2002 Code Enforcement has operated on its own as a three-member department.

Fiscal Year 2001-006 Code enforcement, while still operating under the Community Development Division, separated from the Planning and Building Department becoming its own three-person department.

All information from the City of Nashua Annual Report