New property maintenance ordinance discussed at city commission work session
A draft of a new property maintenance ordinance, meant to tackle all blighted and nuisance properties in Mount Pleasant, was discussed during a work session by the Mount Pleasant City Commission on Feb. 26.
A blighted property, as cited in the draft, is one that is either a public or attractive nuisance, a fire hazard, not habitable, an abandoned residential structure, partially completed construction or storage of building materials.
“Poorly maintained properties and blight lower property values, negatively impact the economy, increase crime, and damages residences’ well-being and connection to their community,” the draft stated.
The ordinance would begin with a year of education and outreach efforts to inform property owners what to expect before it would be enforced. In that year, enforcement and members of the Neighborhood Resource Unit would potentially warn property owners whose properties violate the new ordinance.
“I think it is important for people to have the opportunity to be familiar with it,” said Commissioner Kathy Ling.
The next steps in the process include running the draft by city attorney Scott Smith, who will make any necessary changes before sending it back to the commissioners for review via email. If at that point commissioners are uncomfortable with the draft, there will be another work session.
Otherwise, the draft will be sent to stakeholders and neighborhood associations for input. Then, a final draft will go through a formal process in a public hearing.
During the work session, commissioners discussed various details to leave out, or add into the draft, such as partial construction timelines, defining how much litter is considered a nuisance, whether to allow the raising and keeping of carrier pigeons, and whether a wooden board covering a broken window must be painted the same color as the structure.
Ling and Commissioner Lori Gillis expressed concerns with the language of the ordinance being too vague.
“I’d feel a little more comfortable in terms of a blight ordinance, with something that said excessive litter or something that suggests you’re not going to get cited because you’ve got a milk carton that happens to fall out of your trash bin,” Ling said.
During the discussion on partial construction timeline, Mayor Allison Quast-Lents’ property was brought into the conversation by Gillis. Quast-Lents has a property that has been under construction for some time.
“I’ll be the first to recognize that you probably have gotten complaints about this, particularly my house,” Quast-Lents said. “And so, I recognize that you’re trying to eliminate that complaint.”
The draft prohibits partially constructed buildings, unless the owner has a building permit, which would permit 12 months of construction, allowing for two 6-month extensions.
If after two years construction on the exterior of a building isn’t completed, action may be taken against the owner for violating the ordinance.
While the work session was the bulk of what was discussed, additional items from the Feb. 26 meeting included:
- Chris Bundy, director of Parks and Public Spaces for Mount Pleasant, was recognized for receiving the statewide 2018 Park Resource Leadership Award for his 29 years of service.
- Starting Feb. 26, once a month at the second city commission meeting of each month, a specific department in the city will be highlighted in a 10-minute presentation. Assistant fire chief Mike Dunham presented the Neighborhood Resource Unit.