Council will discuss how to reduce the number of boarded-up buildings in the city today at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall, 205 Lawrence St.
There are only about 20 properties in Marietta that have been boarded up, said Brian Binzer, director of development services for Marietta.
Some of those are apartments, including buildings at the vacant Wynhaven Apartment complex at 560 Powder Springs Road, and Marquis Place Apartments at 1019 Franklin Road.
A few duplexes are also boarded up along with one commercial property on Allgood Road.
Binzer could not name the rest of the 20 properties.
“There’s no one big property that you can point to and say all of those buildings are boarded up,” Binzer said.
Still, Fleming says 20 is too high of a number.
Vacant properties have a negative impact on neighborhoods, he said, bringing down home values.
“I hope to send a very strong signal to those who choose to board up and abandon property they own that it’s really quite simple,” Fleming said. “If you want to board up your home, go do it in another city.”
Marietta does not have an ordinance that deals specifically with boarded-up buildings, Binzer said, though there is a code that pertains to safety problems caused by dilapidated properties.
If city code enforcement officers are informed of a property that causes a hazard, they will put a notice on the building’s front door and send the property owner notice by mail that clean up needs to take place within a certain amount of time. If the property owner does not comply, he or she could land in court.
Marietta has been fortunate, Binzer said, that vacant properties aren’t a widespread problem.
“Citywide, it’s not a big issue when you’re talking about 20 structures, but I think the person who lives next door to one of these boarded structures, it’s probably a big deal to them and I think we sympathize with that,” Binzer said.
Councilman Anthony Coleman praised city code enforcement officers and said Marietta’s current ordinances are strong.
“We just need to enforce what we’ve got on the books,” Coleman said, adding he’s willing to listen to any proposals.
But Fleming says inspiring homeowners to keep up their properties begins with an ordinance that has “more teeth and really just a willingness to say this isn’t who we want to be.”
“When I think about cities that I want to become, it’s cities that do these types of the things and paint the picture of who they want to be and do so in an ordinance,” Fleming said.
It’s all about walking a fine line, he said.
“I recognize it’s a balancing act between property rights of those who own boarded homes and the property rights of those who live next to boarded homes,” Fleming said. He said he’s inclined to side with the property owner who he believes is contributing to the community.
There wasn’t a particular property that inspired Fleming to take up the issue. It’s a problem citywide, Fleming said, but there are areas of the city that have seen more dilapidated properties than others though he declined to point to a specific area.
“This isn’t a problem in all seven wards, I’ll say it like this,” Fleming said.
City Council will discuss today the policies other cities have in place to curb blighted properties.
Both Albany and Griffin levy taxes at an increased rate, equaling three times the city’s normal property tax rate, on owners of abandoned properties.
In Charlotte, N.C., property owners who board up a residence must register that property with the city within 48 hours. The property cannot remain boarded up for more than 6 months, and at that point it must either be repaired or demolished.