The city of Jonesboro’s property boarding and securing ordinance became effective Jan. 2, but enforcement will not begin until April to allow owners and residents time to familiarize themselves with the new law, Mayor Harold Perrin said.
The ordinance was created to help ensure health, safety and to preserve property values and the beauty of Jonesboro by working to eliminate vacant and blighted structures, and to encourage the rehabilitation of such buildings.
“We have too many beautiful blocks that suffer because one property is allowed to fall into disrepair,” Perrin said. “This ordinance gives us the tool to prevent these problems from festering.”
City Director of Code Enforcement Michael Tyner said blighted properties have become an increasing problem and complaint to his department.
“We see vacant properties that have been boarded up for a significant amount of time or left unsecured with broken doors and windows,” he said. “Some will have roof damage and a tarp but no effort to repair it. There also are generally blighted properties that fell into disrepair simply due to negligence and become uninhabitable.”
The ordinance requires owners to maintain residential, commercial or industrial property and enforcement of the ordinance can be triggered by any of four conditions:
· when necessary for public health, safety and welfare, as determined by the chief building official;
· when deemed a health hazard and safety risk by the chief fire marshal; or
· when the property is vacant with no connected utilities for 60 days.
The ordinance also defines how structures should be secured:
· boarding materials must be cut to fit openings, weatherproofed, and painted and maintained with a color that blends with the structure;
· broken or damaged windows and doors are to be boarded and/or secured within seven days;
· owners are required to diligently repair, rehabilitate or demolish structures within six months, with extensions allowed only with a permit for repair or demolition, an ongoing criminal investigation, or proof of undue hardship.
Permits to repair, rehabilitate or demolish a structure must be acquired within six months of notification by the city. Failure to take action may result in a nuisance abatement condemnation or citation with fines of no less than $100 per day.
Tyner said this ordinance covers properties that pose problems but do not necessarily meet structural criteria for condemnation.
“If a property is structurally stable, we cannot condemn it,” he said. “But some are nuisances or attract illegal activity, so we can now address that.”