Montgomery seeks blight ordinance for dilapidated buildings
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The city of Montgomery is taking more steps to address neighborhood blight.
Wednesday evening, a Montgomery City Council ad hoc committee met to discuss implementing an ordinance that would give the city more flexibility to address the dozens of vacant, dilapidated homes and commercial buildings across the city.
Abandoned, boarded up homes have been an eyesore to the community for years. Neighbors say those eyesores lower property value and welcome in criminal activity.
“These types of structures invite criminal activity, criminal activity that we do not need,” said Marion Ackley, president of the Highland Park Home Owners Association. “Something must be done.”
Ackley stood on Longview Street in her neighborhood, pointing to the number of vacant and boarded up homes down the block. All of which were just feet away from a day care.
“We have children that have to maybe walk up and down this street to get to school. Do you know how unsafe that is?” Ackley said.
The city has torn down 180 dilapidated homes over the years, but dozens remain.
A lot of these buildings are heir properties, under state control or are houses that owners failed to pay properties taxes on. This legally gives the city little wiggle room for solutions, but a new ordinance could help.
“It would allow us to bring those property owners to the table, give us an opportunity to ask what the action plan is, and actually make them follow through with what they said they were going to do with those properties,” said District 6 City Councilmen Oronde Mitchell.
Mitchell also says a bill working its way through the Statehouse - SB 335 - that would create a blight review board to hold owners accountable.
“It will actually send those letters to the review board, the review board would hear what they are doing with their property, then they will either give them a time frame to make sure they are actually doing something with those properties,” Mitchell said.
The city is also discussing the implementation of a land bank.
“Land banks just give the city the opportunity to buy some of those properties,” Mitchell said.
The city says this won’t be a quick fix, but Mitchell assures the city that improvements are in the works.
“You will start seeing less buildings that are boarded up,” Mitchell said. “Montgomery is an up and coming city and we want to make sure that when you drive through your neighborhood, when you’re going shopping, that you don’t see those boarded up or abandoned buildings.”
The ordinance is in its final stages of completion. The city’s legal department has to review it before it can go before the council in May.
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