Pool ordinance amendment wants Farmington Hills residents to stay out of deep end with city

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published March 7, 2018

 Farmington Hills resident Nancy Jennings is for the amended pool ordinance that asks residents to maintain proper upkeep of their pools for safety reasons. Her pool stays covered during the offseason with a fitted safety cover.

Farmington Hills resident Nancy Jennings is for the amended pool ordinance that asks residents to maintain proper upkeep of their pools for safety reasons. Her pool stays covered during the offseason with a fitted safety cover.

Photo provided by Nancy Jennings

FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington Hills resident Nancy Jennings loves her backyard swimming pool. 

The longtime resident is also a firm believer, as a pool owner, of taking care of her pool by keeping it covered with a fitted safety cover when the pool is not in use, and cleaning it as needed.  

She is a proponent of others doing the same.

“If you have a pool, really, you need to be thinking about if you’re not using it, fill it in or get rid of it,” she said. “If you have no intentions to use it, I would wonder, so what’s next? What are you going to do? You can’t just let it sit there open — it is not a real recipe for success.”

Jennings is also in support of an ordinance amendment that encourages residents to ensure that pools are covered when not in use or to demolish them if they have not been in use for two years.

“I would support that,” Jennings said, adding that the amendment would help prevent dilapidated pools, which she called a “real eyesore” in neighborhoods. “Even behind houses, you (can see a pool) that is being unused and full of water. It is sad, and it breeds mosquitoes. I am all for ensuring that homeowners appropriately (cover their pools). If they are not going to use it, if it mandates you must cover it properly, that only seems reasonable.”

During a Feb. 26 Farmington Hills City Council meeting, City Council members approved an amendment to the city’s swimming pool code by 6-0; City Councilman Michael Bridges was absent. 

The amendment requires residents to completely uninstall and remove all mementos of a pool when it is not in use, or to put a safety cover or barrier over unused swimming pools, spas, hot tubs and wading pools, according to a Feb. 12 report from the city manager to the City Council. A safety cover, according to the letter, should also be properly installed and maintained, and should be secured to the perimeter of the pool.

City Manager David Boyer said in a follow-up email that the amendment is to protect residents. 

“The amendments are to address safety issues with pools that are not properly maintained,” Boyer said in the email.

Jennings said that the ordinance is a “pretty normal requirement.” She uses a fitted cover to cover her pool during the offseason.

Farmington Hills resident Brooke Leiberman is on the other side of the fence. She said that she and her family just purchased a house with a pool in the backyard. She said that though the pool is currently covered — and she is unsure of its condition inside — money is involved on either side: keeping a pool or demolishing it.

“I think the hard thing is the cost — to properly maintain a pool is expensive. It is also expensive to properly disassemble a pool,” she said. “It is hard for a city to demand something that costs so much money.”

Ed Gardiner, director of planning and community development for the city, said in an email that there was an enforcement issue last summer.

“After examining our ordinance, (we) thought a change was necessary,” he said, adding that the city is not expecting problems. “But it’s always best to be prepared.”

Gardiner added that before the amendment, the ordinance required abatement if the pool was abandoned, but it didn’t define abatement options “and didn’t provide standards for pool removal.” 

Boyer said that any violation of the amendment would be considered a civil infraction.

The letter also states that any improper or incorrect installation, operation, maintenance or use of a pool would be considered a nuisance, “and the city may in addition to the penalty provisions abate such nuisance by means of a court action.”

Ted Hadfield, a Farmington Hills resident for 32 years, said that his pool was built over 50 years ago and “has a lot of history.”

He agrees with the amended ordinance, for safety reasons and more.

“Any pool owner with a pool left unattended, especially for two years, should receive a fine for negligence and endangerment to the community,” he said.