The Perry City Council is considering an ordinance change that would mandate a $100 per day fine for unsightly buildings.
The council had a first reading of the ordinance amendment at its meeting Tuesday and is scheduled to vote on it at the July 5 meeting.
City Manager Lee Gilmour said owners of buildings that are eyesores are already subject to being taken to court and fined, but the fines are at the discretion of the judge. The amendment would mandate a $100 per day fine.
It would apply to residential or commercial buildings. Gilmour said while the current ordinance could mean a fine greater than $100 per day, the hope is by mandating the fine, more property owners will take notice.
With the change, he said, the consequences of not complying with the ordinance will be clear.
“I am hopeful that once the information gets out and people become aware of it, that those property owners who may not feel it’s appropriate to maintain will do so because of the potential cost,” Gilmour said.
Gilmour said the provision is aimed at buildings that are not necessarily in bad enough shape to be considered a safety hazard and condemned but are eyesores that drag down surrounding property values. That can include broken windows, peeling paint and other visible issues. It does not apply to keeping the grass cut, which is covered under a separate ordinance.
Mayor Jimmy Faircloth said when the issue was discussed in an earlier work session, no council members voiced opposition, so he expects the change will be approved.
Faircloth said he isn’t sure how much difference it will make, but the aim is to address the problem early before a property reaches a blighted state.
“We do not want dilapidated buildings that can become a safety issue,” he said. “It’s one more small piece of the puzzle that we have in the arsenal in order to motivate people to keep properties maintained.”
Gilmour said many of the problems are with vacant homes and commercial properties that have not been rented in years.
“It can be like a cancer and start spreading and effecting the surrounding properties,” he said. “It decreases the value of the properties and makes the property less desirable.”
He also said the issue is not limited to any particular area but is a problem all over the city.
Faircloth noted that taking property owners to court is a last resort. When a property is identified as in violation of the ordinance, a code enforcement officer first makes contact to ask the owner to fix the problem. If that fails, the city sends a letter, and if that doesn’t work the owner will get a citation and an order to appear in court.