Watertown's Code Enforcement Program

The condition and timely maintenance of the residential, commercial, and industrial structures in the City of Watertown play a vital role in the success of our city.  In order to preserve and enhance these valuable city resources, and to protect the safety, health and welfare of the persons who live, work and recreate in the city, the Building, Safety, & Zoning Department conducts property and building code inspections and performs necessary code enforcement activity.

Prior to April 2019 code compliance was a duty taken on primarily by the City of Watertown’s Building Inspector and was complaint-driven. This means that a complaint had to be formally filed in the Building, Safety, & Zoning Department by an outside entity before the department could inspect or enforce code violations. Since the inclusion of our part-time Code Compliance Officer in April 2019, and the alteration of Code Section 424-4B in May 2019, the Building, Safety, & Zoning Department has been able to be more proactive. 

For commercial properties, the typical code violation has been deterioration of the building. Although this issue may touch on various city commercial building codes, these violations are typically covered under City of Watertown Code Section 424-17 which can be viewed at https://www.ecode360.com/WA3515.

For residential properties, the typical code compliance violations have been accumulated garbage/rubbish as well as exterior storage. Although these violations may touch on various city residential building codes, they are typically covered under City of Watertown Code Section 332-3 which can be viewed at https://www.ecode360.com/WA3515.

Beginning in 2020, Code Compliance Officer Dell Zwieg began canvassing the city by Aldermanic District wards.  The intention is to canvas the city in a 3-year rotation performing inspections via a drive through of 6 aldermanic wards each year.  This process is in addition to the complaints submitted to our office.

Those property owners of locations containing code compliance violations will be notified via a letter.  Each letter will contain the following:
1)  The code violation(s) found (pictures are available and supplied if requested from our  office).
2) The specific code section(s) violated.
3) A timeline in which the work must be completed.
4)  Information on what to do should the property owner wish to appeal the violation. 

What to do if you are Notified of Code Violations: 

1) Do NOT throw away the letter
Should you receive a letter from one of our Code Enforcement Officers, the letter will have some important information such as what the issues are and who to contact at the city should you need clarification on an item or timeline. We highly suggest keeping the letter until the issues are resolved.

2) Do not panic
Staff at the City of Watertown understand there may be weather-related constraints or other constraints which may make the timeline stated in the letter unobtainable. Please contact the Code Enforcement Officer who sent you the letter and voice any questions or concerns you may have. We are willing to work with property owners and revise the timelines, if necessary.

3) Continue to communicate
The largest issue staff seems to encounter is the lack of communication from the property owner. If an issue arises, please communicate with the code enforcement officer and/or office staff. Lack of communication and lack of progress will generally result in citations being issued. However, if there is communication between the property owner and the code enforcement officer, reasonable deadlines can be reached until the issues are resolved. 

Code enforcement aids in beautifying our city; protects those who live, work, or visit; and enhances our historic buildings. Thank you for your assistance in this effort.