Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bill to clear blight carried over in Senate committee

Listen to the City Quick Connect podcast for an interview with Scott Slatton about this hearing.

A bill resulting from one of the Association’s five advocacy initiatives was on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s agenda this week.

The Dilapidated Buildings Act is the solution proposed to the challenge of “clear blight” in the Association’s advocacy initiatives. As the Association staff has gathered input from local officials in recent years regarding challenges they face, dilapidated buildings have consistently been a priority for cities of all sizes.

For example the staff heard stories of dilapidated buildings such as a commercial structure owned by a defunct non-profit, a shopping center with a long-gone absentee owner and a property owned by multiple heirs of the original owner…all had fallen into disrepair and had become public safety and public health hazards.

In many cases, a city may have exhausted all of its options to abate the nuisance buildings and the only option remained demolition. However, demolition is expensive, and the city rarely recoups its costs to tear down the structure. At that point, the only option is to leave the structure standing as a public nuisance.

The DBA gives councils an additional tool by allowing the city to petition the circuit court to appoint a receiver who would then bring the building back to a safe condition. The legislation is very specific in ensuring property rights of the owner are protected. At the same time, it allows cities to do what’s in the best interest for surrounding property owners and neighbors.

At this week’s hearing, Senator Kevin Johnson (former mayor of Manning and past president of the Association) made a motion to carry over the bill so that concerns several senators had raised could be ironed out. Stay tuned for more as this bill continues to be debated this session.

Listen to what Scott Slatton, the Association’s legislative and public policy advocate, had to say about the hearing in this week’s City Quick Connect podcast. Keep up with what Scott is covering at the State House by following him on Twitter @ScottSlatton.

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