Jodie Johnson column: Rules upon rules in Carlton, but all for a purpose

Why is the Carlton city code still so big? The main reason is to keep the residents and businesses safe.

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City of Carlton. (Katie Rohman /

I couldn’t wait to grow up so I would finally be free of rules. No more parents telling me what to do. No teachers expecting me to do things on their timetable. Freedom! Hah!

I still have just as many rules to follow and I have to make myself follow them or face the consequences.

Sometimes I wish there were less rules. I mean, why are there so many? One of my first jobs with the City of Carlton (about 12 years ago) was to make an index for the city code, also known as ordinances. There were 343 pages of code! Some were very outdated.

Two of my favorite outdated ordinances are related to needing licenses:

The first was that you needed a license to install a phonograph in public places of business. I don’t think we have had many phonographs installed recently.


The second was that you needed a license for drays, hacks and express wagons. I had to read that one twice. Basically, you need to have a license to move people, baggage and retail goods.

Our earlier leaders wanted to make sure that all residents had a safe and peaceful place to live.

Our current leaders want the same thing. In 2015, when Carlton and Thomson consolidated, we had our ordinances updated. We needed to since Carlton and Thomson had different ordinances, and why keep outdated rules? Our city code is now 188 pages.

Some ordinances may seem useless, but there is a good reason for each one. All these rules protect our rights and our neighbor’s rights.

The city code covers a variety of things. It begins with how the city government is set up and how it will be run. It continues to list the requirements for streets and utilities. Carlton has water and sewer utilities.


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Next comes the licensing. These include peddlers, animals, liquor sales and gambling. Then we have a section relating to waste disposal, trees, recreational devices and nuisances.
There is a nice section on traffic code. These are pretty much the same as all over the state.

There is a large chapter on land usage that includes the type of use allowed in different areas.


City code ends with how the cemetery is set up and run and rules relating to flood plains and flooding.

I am tired just summarizing this list. Why is the city code still so big? One reason is the legal language used, but the main reason is to keep the residents and businesses in City of Carlton safe.

We require building permits to protect new owners of properties in town from hazards. These can be big or small. When my family purchased our current home, we found that our electric dryer and electric stove were on the same breaker.

I don’t know much about wiring, but I was told that was a perfect way to cause a fire if both were to run at the same time. Needless to say, one of the previous owners had done some electrical work without a permit.

City code tries to cover any possible issues that may arise in the community. That is why it is so big. Rules are not always fun, but they do serve a purpose.

Take some time to review your city code so you are aware of possible issues.

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