A former Galveston city councilman claimed a small victory when three of five unresolved code enforcement violations were dismissed in municipal court, but he contends that none of them should have ever been filed.
Galveston city officials, however, contend that the three were dismissed as part of an agreement in which former Councilman Tarris Woods would address some of the issues brought up by the violations.
“Two of the cases went to trial and the judge did not levy a sentence, but deferred an entry of judgment until August,” city attorney Don Glywasky said. “We told Mr. Woods that if he kept up the property, they would go away. Having that hammer over his head, we felt we already had something to make sure Tarris complied and didn’t need anything more.”
The five violations, which Woods contested, are for two properties, both of which are vacant lots, Woods said. The violation for the first property was for high weeds and grass. The violation for the second property was for trash, litter and debris on the property, high weeds and grass and vehicles parked on a lot, according to Galveston Municipal Court records.
Some of the complaints date as far back as November 2016, according to municipal court records.
Woods said that the complaints lodged against him are inconsistent and that he wasn’t treated fairly.
“This just doesn’t make sense,” Woods said.
One notification claimed he violated the International Property Maintenance Code, documents show.
A Dec. 8 email from Debbie Stark, Galveston’s assistant director of operations for code enforcement, stated that the charge — not cutting weeds and grass — had been revoked because it didn’t pertain to the International Property Maintenance Code.
“Were they violations or not?” Woods said. “Do I disregard the charge or not?”
The court summons for failing to appear in court for the weeds and grass violation on that property stated that Woods violated the city of Galveston Code Chapter 23, records show.
Code enforcement officials declined to speak on the details of the particular case, citing it as an active violation.
“We do work with people and grant extensions routinely if they are showing progress,” City Marshal Michael Gray said.
The violations did stall an anticipated run at a council seat in the May election, Woods said.
“I couldn’t run with this cloud,” Woods said. “Who would have endorsed me with five violations?”
Woods served on the city council from 2008 until 2010, and then from 2014 to 2016.
Woods said he asked to move up a hearing on the violations in Galveston Municipal Court, but that his request wasn’t granted.
The three violations were dismissed at a Feb. 28 hearing, 12 days after the deadline to file for the May elections.
“Really, I just didn’t get this one, to tell you the truth,” Woods said.
The other two violations will be taken up again at an August hearing, officials said.