Two of the 20 buildings identified as eyesores possibly worthy of being torn down are owned by the city’s own redevelopment agency.
No decisions have been made on whether a new ordinance will be pursued, but council members discussed at a meeting on Wednesday the possibility of creating a code that would limit the amount of time property owners could have a building boarded up to no longer than six months. If no repairs had been made after six months, the city would be able to raze the property and put a lien on it to recover expenses.
Of the 20 properties boarded up in Marietta, two are buildings at the Wynhaven and Marquis Place apartment complexes, one is a former neighborhood convenience store and two are residences owned by the Marietta Redevelopment Corp., the city’s redevelopment agency.
Council members asked the city attorney to research the ordinance and report back to the council next month for more consideration.
But the first step in addressing abandoned properties will be to look at amending the city’s building code, which as of now allows homes to be boarded up indefinitely.
Councilman Stuart Fleming is leading the charge to strengthen the city’s blight ordinance and said he has received more than 20 phone calls from residents who support his efforts.
He urged council to implement a six-month grace period that homes could be boarded up and said he doesn’t think there’s a better use of tax dollars than tearing down homes that reflect poorly on the entire city.
Mayor Steve Tumlin expressed support to tighten the city’s code but said he is hesitant to “tax somebody just because they can’t afford to fix their property.”
Councilman Philip Goldstein agreed with Tumlin and said he has concerns about tearing down property only because it’s boarded up.
Before the city could demolish property, a public hearing may be needed to give property owners a chance to explain their situation, said City Attorney Doug Haynie.
But Fleming said he “doesn’t really care” why a property has been boarded up.
“My suspicion is none of these people have just fallen on hard times and decided to put up plywood,” Fleming said.
Councilman Grif Chalfant said putting a lien on property would “teach a lesson.”
“They may not fix it up a whole lot, but they’ll fix it up enough not to get into this situation,” Chalfant said.
While the city has identified only 20 boarded-up buildings in Marietta, Fleming said that number is too high.
“One is too many in my judgment because it impacts all of our properties and it reflects poorly upon the city,” Fleming said.