The City Council approved 6-1 last week an ordinance requiring owners of buildings that have been boarded up to register with the city. The ordinance also allows the city to condemn vacant structures that are unfit for living and place a lien on the properties to recoup costs.
Councilman Philip Goldstein cast the lone opposing vote because he said the ordinance goes
“If you board up a window and you have to register with the city within basically a couple days, it’s a little much for me,” Goldstein said.
Though the City Council has approved the ordinance, it has been spent to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for a “cursory review,” said Councilman Stuart Fleming, who led the charge in getting the ordinance on the city’s books.
The state agency has 60 days to review it, Fleming said, but the process is more of a formality and the department doesn’t have the authority to change or stop the ordinance.
There are only about 20 boarded up properties in Marietta. Some include buildings at the vacant Wynhaven Apartment complex, 560 Powder Springs Road, and Marquis Place Apartments, 1019 Franklin Road. Some are residential properties owned by the Marietta Redevelopment Corp., the city’s redevelopment arm, while others are sprinkled throughout Marietta.
In the same meeting where the City Council adopted the ordinance, it also voted to approve a rezoning request for a boarded-up residential property on Lawrence Street near City Hall. That site will become an office building.
Though it may seem like a small number, Fleming has maintained having 20 boarded up properties in the city is 20 too many.
“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 previously told the MDJ. “If you want to board up your home, go do it in another city.”
The problem has been caused, Fleming said, by investors who would purchase homes, board them up and wait for the market to encourage redevelopment.
Prior to last week’s adoption of the ordinance, Marietta did not have a code dealing specifically with boarded-up buildings.
If city code enforcement officers were informed of a property causing a hazard, they would put a notice on the building’s front door and send the property owner notice by mail that clean up needed to take place within a certain amount of time. If the property owner did not comply, he or she could have landed in court.
Other Georgia cities, including one in Cobb, have also begun to tackle blight.
Kennesaw unanimously adopted an ordinance last week that sets an increased rate of property tax at seven times the normal millage rate on owners of abandoned properties.
Both Albany and Griffin levy similar taxes at an increased rate equaling three times the city’s normal property tax rate.
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.