Shouldn't the punishment fit the crime?

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It's encouraging to know that after years of doing nothing, absolutely nothing, to enforce the codes it has on the  books regarding buildings and property, the city of Williston is finally taking a step in the right direction and taking some action to correct wrongs.

Last week the city's appointed Board of Adjustment met to determine the guilt or non-guilt of four property owners who were cited for violating city codes.

All four property owners were notified  months in advance of the hearing in an effort to correct any  problems before it went down to the hearing. Only one complied–and that same one was the only one who spoke with city officials concerning the grieveances.

When the hearing occurred, only one property owner showed to defend herself. The other no-shows never sent representation nor did they offer any reasons or suggestions on how their violations could be rectified.

The no-shows' lack of regard for the letters mailed and the calls made, and their lack of appearance at a hearing set aside for them, proves a total disregard for the city where they own property.

When the Board of Adjustment levied its penalities, each of the four property owners were assessed the same fine: 30 days to comply and a $10 a day fine every day after for non-compliance.

That included the property owner who did everything she could do to right the wrongs on her property and came before the board to ask for two more weeks to finish the project.

We applaud the Board of Adjustment for taking action, but we strongly believe that each case is individualized and the penalties should not be the same for every property owner.

The owner who disregarded the letter sent in February clearly doesn't plan to correct the violations, so why is he given the same amount of time as the person who is working to make things right?

And shouldn't a business owner who also ignored all warnings be assessed a higher penalty than that same person who, although she lives two hours away, has hired someone to clean up her property?

We hope the Board of Adjustment continues to meet and weigh dangerous or unsightly conditions.

But just as there are many reasons for violating city codes, there should also be different punishments for the people responsible and those punishments shouldn't be blanket penalties, but ones decided based on the individual and his responsiveness to the problems.