Editorial: Zoning administrator has Jerome moving in positive direction

A dilapidated building in Jerome. (VVN/Halie Chavez)

A dilapidated building in Jerome. (VVN/Halie Chavez)

If the collapse of the historic Cuban Queen Bordello was a wake-up call for Jerome, the town’s new zoning chief is not letting the grass grow under his feet before another old building falls victim to neglect in the mountainside community.

Just as he has done with Jerome’s long-ignored general plan, Zoning Administrator Kyle Dabney is proving himself as a man who gets things done promptly, efficiently and professionally.

Already, Dabney has identified six dilapidated nuisance buildings in Jerome, five of which have failing structures. He has a firm plan of action to try and bring new life to them. First, he is courteously communicating with the owners. Second, he is being creative in the solutions available to the property owners by working with such organizations as Habitat for Humanity, Home Depot, and local banks to provide assistance to restore the buildings. Finally, he is making the heavy-handed threat of demolition at owner’s expense the last-resort solution to the problem.

Dabney is a breath of fresh air from the all-too-often bureaucratic approach of strict adherence to ordinance requirements with the corresponding threat of consequences for those who do not toe the line.

There is a fair amount of criticism being directed toward Jerome town officials since the collapse of the Cuban Queen. Yes, town officials should have stepped in sooner to address the problem of dilapidated structures in the town. Yes, Jerome should have been more demanding that the property owners clean up these eye-sores. Yes, the owners of these properties should have been more respectful of their neighbors and kept their properties presentable.

But finger-pointing doesn’t solve anything. That’s why it’s so great to see a guy like Mr. Dabney step in with a plan to actually solve the problem.

Ditto for his work to get Jerome’s long-neglected general plan update moving in a positive direction. Arizona law requires a municipality’s general plan to be updated once every 10 years. Jerome’s plan had been collecting dust since 1981. Now, about eight months into the job, Dabney and the town’s general plan committee have a document ready for public process review.

It bears emphasis that Mr. Dabney is a young man. He is not a seasoned bureaucrat. He is not bursting at the seams with municipal zoning experience.

What he obviously does have, though, is a solid work ethic and a willingness to work with people.

He’s getting the job done in Jerome. He is quickly proving himself as an excellent example of a friendly, solutions-oriented public servant.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Dabney.

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