Fleming, who proposed the code change, expects it to pass next week.
The City Council will take up a regulation it has been revising since April to limit the amount of time buildings can be boarded-up at its Aug. 13 meeting.
“The genesis of it was the recognition that boarded up and abandoned properties impact the value of properties around them,” Fleming said.
Buildings may now remain boarded up for an unlimited amount of time. Under the proposed portion of the code, that would change to six months.
Fleming said none of the buildings the regulation will target are inhabited. He said the boarded-up buildings are owned by investors waiting until the economy improves to flip the properties and make a profit.
“Investors are choosing to wait and damage the value of the properties around them and wait to sell them for their own private gains,” Fleming said.
There are 21 properties containing boarded-up buildings, and some of those properties have multiple boarded buildings, said Brian Binzer, the city’s director of development services.
The new regulation requires every building owner to register with the city when it boards up a building. No registration was required before.
The city does not plan to regulate how a building must be boarded, but if the owner puts boards across any opening in the structure, the city considers it a boarded-up building.
Once a building has been registered, it can remain that way for three months, Binzer said. Then, its owners can renew the registration for another three months if they submit plans for renovation or demolition to the city.
But, after six months, the building must be either sold or demolished. It cannot remain boarded up, Binzer said.
If the owner isn’t quick to act in demolishing his building, the city can raze the property and send the bill to the owner, based on the new regulation.
The owner has 30 days after the six months are up to demolish the building, or the city will “proceed with the process to demolish said structure(s),” according to the regulation.
At a meeting of the City Council’s judicial committee, which drafted the regulation, Councilman Philip Goldstein said he had concerns about the city’s ability to recoup the money it will pay in demolition costs.
“A lot of times we don’t get paid on these (demolitions),” Goldstein said.
Fleming said he supports the regulation because in his south Marietta district, there are many areas that have been vacant since the economy faltered that are now being renovated.
“I have the honor to represent Ward 1, and that is where a tremendous amount of new growth is happening,” Fleming said. “From my living room I can see a boarded up home and that exists in many places, and I’m committed to changing that.”
Ken Croy runs his law practice out of a building he owns on Lawrence Street near the intersection of Fairground Street that sits across from two homes that have been boarded up for more than a year. Croy said he doesn’t see the value of the city’s goal to demolish a boarded-up building to create an empty lot.
“(The city) envisions building a big condo complex, but those days are gone,” Croy said. “(The landowners) are doing the best they can.”
Croy said he thinks the economy in Marietta is “doing just fine,” and the city doesn’t need to rush into demolishing buildings because it might make the property less valuable. But, Croy said he has seen downsides to working next to dilapidated buildings.
“What affects me is I see homeless people coming in and out of those buildings,” Croy said.
John Hesmer, who owns three buildings on Lawrence Street near the intersection of Fairground Street that are also used as lawyer offices, said he didn’t think the boarded up buildings on his street detracted from his property “because we just look so different.”
Hesmer said he agrees with the new regulation when he looks at boarded buildings in larger commercial areas, such as along Roswell Road and Powder Springs Street.
“I think the city has enough eyesores just with the uncontrolled commercialization that happens in those areas,” Hesmer said. “I wish it would look more like a controlled development with buried utilities and regulated signs.”
Larry Yarbrough is a lawyer who works in one of the buildings Hesmer owns, and he said the boarded-up buildings could be a detriment to his business.
“If these buildings attract the homeless, it could affect our business,” Yarbrough said. “It doesn’t make our building look any more attractive.”
Yarbrough said he thought the council members had the “right mindset” when they created the regulation.
“If the owner won’t fix it up or make it attractive, they need to expedite the process,” Yarbrough said.