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Murphysboro sign

Part of the efforts to spruce up Murphysboro included this welcome sign on Illinois 13 on the east side of town.

Murphysboro City Council aldermen rejected a proposed rental property code, leading a few officials to say it attempted to enact codes that would put their own homes in violation.

The proposed policy was developed to give city officials and code-enforcement officers more leeway to stop violators by citing both the renters and the owner of the rented properties. City Council Alderman Gary McComb, president of the council's Public Improvement Committee, said about half the city's property is renter-occupied.

"We want people to register their rental property, and when you write a ticket, you can write a ticket to the occupant of the house and the landlord," McComb said. "You can send them both notices to get something fixed and if not, issue them the ticket."

McComb said he has pictures of mattresses and burning trash in backyards — both violations of city code — next to properties of people who maintain their properties and follow city code.

"We've got too many rental properties in town (whose owners) aren't keeping their properties up," McComb said.

McComb and Alderman Herby Voss, also part of the Public Improvement Committee, said the committee had been at work on the proposal for about three months.

Had the ordinance been approved at Tuesday night's meeting, its inspections would have begun in 2017, Voss said.

He and McComb were the only two voting to approve the measure, while Aldermen Dan Brattan, Russell Brown, Gloria Campos, John Erbes and Bill Pierson voted against it. Barbara Hughes, Mark Acosta and Tom Ridings were not present.

"I think this is overly broad as it is written," Erbes said. "My house would not pass this standard. I don't see why we're having high standards for renter-occupied property than we do for owner-occupied (residences)."

Alderman Bill Pierson said, "I'm not against this idea, I just think it needs to be fine-tuned."

McComb said members of the Public Improvement Committee would re-work the proposal and present it to the council at its next meeting.

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Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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