Town Hall meeting today to discuss Vacant Structure Ordinance

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Those interested in a possible ordinance to control vacant business properties can hear and be heard at a City of Minden Town Hall meeting that will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. today (Tuesday, July 27) at the Minden Civic Center.

During a workshop in June, Economic Development Director Phillip Smart proposed a Vacant Structure Ordinance that he hopes will be a positive thing for the city.

“If you have a vacant structure and you’re not doing anything with it, within six months if it’s still vacant, you have to file it with the city and notify them that you have a vacant structure,” Smart said. “You have to have an overall projection of what you are going to do within the next six months.”

Whether the owner inherited from a death in the family and doesn’t yet know what will become of the property, or if they plan to renovate it to lease or sell, the owner will be required to let the city know, he said.

“Basically, it lets us put it on a list that says, ‘OK, this is available,’” Smart said. “Whether it’s for sale or for lease, you tell us all the information. Who it’s listed with, project manager or property manner. So, we have that contact information.”
The owner must also prove insurance on the property – a liability policy, he said, for safety’s sake.

After the six-month period, if the property isn’t sold or rented, a penalty will be assessed.

District A Councilman Wayne Edwards expressed concern about the extensiveness of the proposed ordinance.
“What do you think will be the position of the people who own buildings downtown?” Edwards asked Smart during the workshop. “This (ordinance) is pretty extensive on what has to be done. It’s going to force people to sell their buildings. Is this what we want?”

Smart replied the hope is that owners will upgrade or sell their buildings, so they will no longer be vacant, overgrown and boarded.