Behind closed boards: Marietta council to possibly limit time buildings may sit boarded-up
by Hilary Butschek
August 06, 2014 04:00 AM | 2886 views | 3 3 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local Attorneys Larry Yarbrough, Bart Glasgow and John Hesmer discuss the boarded up homes near their offices on Lawrence Street on Tuesday. With the proposed change in the law in the city of Marietta, the buildings might be coming down soon. <br> Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Local Attorneys Larry Yarbrough, Bart Glasgow and John Hesmer discuss the boarded up homes near their offices on Lawrence Street on Tuesday. With the proposed change in the law in the city of Marietta, the buildings might be coming down soon.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
A vehicle passes by the boarded up house on Lawrence Street on Tuesday, as personal belongings of local homeless people rest near the padlocked home. 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. <br> Staff/Kelly J. Huff
A vehicle passes by the boarded up house on Lawrence Street on Tuesday, as personal belongings of local homeless people rest near the padlocked home. 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.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
MARIETTA — Buildings with boarded-up windows or doors could soon be bulldozed if they sit unsold for too long in Marietta, Councilman Stuart Fleming said.

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.

Comments
(3)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Enough, Goldsteins
|
September 10, 2014
Strawman arguments. Fiction implying a war on property owners.

Obvious, child-like, and boring, stop your lying.

You are counting on the economy to raise the value of your years-abandoned eyesore, and you don't give a damn about the neighborhood.

Well, too bad for you. We'll bulldoze it and sue you to pay the bill and attorney fees.

Justice, at last.

Now, will the decade-dead, scummy eyesore of Wynhaven Apartments on Powder Springs Street disappear? Don't count on it. Someone is being paid off.

Just wait seven months, and it will still stand there. There will be your proof.

WWA
|
August 06, 2014
Is there no limit to what our various government agencies are willing to do to control the lives of it's citizens, or what some property owners will do to enlist government to do for them for their own benefit? This sounds like a first step in a process to take away that property from those owners and pass it on to the real estate development interests in the city. What ever happened to private property rights? If you don't like a boarded up building that someone is holding to flip when the economy improves, go buy somewhere else. Approach the owner and make him a fair offer and buy it yourself. Why should the government be entitled to seize property(that's what it is when they destroy it) to benefit some other individual? If the city government is so fired up about cleaning up the city, how about start with two very vacant lots where the housing projects were. Now there are some nice looking properties, eh?
Be Careful
|
August 06, 2014
I do agree that a property owner should keep up their property...ie...mow the grass and keep up with the paint and so forth.

If a property starts looking trashy, issue tickets and fine them. I have NO problem with that.

However, to put a time limit on renovations, and tell someone you are going to bulldoze their house and then send them the bill?

Oh H__L NO!

If someone demolished my house, they wouldn't be sending me a bill, they'd be sending me a CHECK to pay the fair market value of the home they just knocked over.

They say it's not "fair" for someone to buy a house and hold it until the market is right so they can flip it and make money.

Why isn't that OK?

Isn't that why we put money in the bank, buy stocks, invest in gold? Owning a home is exactly the same.

The ONLY thing this new law is going to do is deter people from buying homes and renovating them.

I dare say those effected neighborhoods will suffer more under this new code than they have before.

So if you destroy a home, who's going to mow the vacant lot? Are you still going to expect the property owner to keep up the vacant lot?

Good luck with that.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides