A group of downtown business owners are pushing to change a city ordinance that would give code enforcement officers more power to clean up vacant buildings in an area that has become a virtual ghost town.
The Downtown Management District, a group of local business owners, voted at its board meeting Thursday morning to send a recommendation to the city to amend part of a longstanding ordinance that dictates how the city must handle vacant and dilapidated buildings.
The current ordinance prevents the city from inspecting the inside of the building unless there are two code violations visible from the exterior. But since many of the code violations are often on the interior, it is difficult for the city to do anything.
Local business owners have asked the city to amend that part of the ordinance so that only one code violation is required, effectively giving the city more power to crack down on owners who have left their buildings in disrepair.
“Hopefully, this is just one solution to help us get one step closer to fixing up downtown and keeping it the way it should be,” said Casey Lain, owner of the House of Rock and chairman of the management district board.
While the ordinance still does not allow for the city to demolish a vacant building, Lain said it will give the city more teeth in getting owners to comply with the rules. “It’s just a good vibe down here, so it [downtown] needs to be a place that’s good to invest your business in.”
The city is now working on drafting the amendment and is expected to present it to city council sometime this fall.