COPPERAS COVE — The City Council amended its unsafe building and structures ordinance Tuesday to help the city remove or repair abandoned or hazardous facilities and residences.
“It is important for the city to start moving on this,” said Councilman Jim Schmitz before the amendments were approved.
The amendments created a process that coincides with state and federal laws and legal rulings, city documents stated.
“We believe that we have this ordinance where all the legal requirements have been met,” said Mike Morton, the city’s chief building official.
The city has waited about two years for a ruling on a Dallas lawsuit to provide direction in amending the ordinance, Morton said. Among those processes included time frames for notifying an owner of the need to repair or demolish the building, if an owner could be located. It also set a public hearing with a municipal judge.
If the property is deemed unsafe at the hearing, the judge can have any residents or tenants relocate 30 days after the hearing, the ordinance stated.
The judge then could order that the building be demolished or repaired within 90 days or longer if a detailed repair plan is submitted by the property owner.
It also established a time line and method for the city to secure and abate the property if an owner could not be found.
The amendments also created a list of reasons that buildings could be deemed unsafe, such as if it were damaged by fire, wind or other causes, likely to cause sickness, disease or injury or likely to fall and injure someone.
Schmitz questioned if the city staff has the manpower and funds to enforce the ordinance.
City Manager Andrea Gardner said staff will “do its best” to bring buildings into compliance quickly.
Probably about 25 buildings in the city meet the definition of unsafe according to the ordinance, Morton told the council.
The owners have been identified for about 10 of those.
Other owners may live outside Central Texas or the state and haven’t been reached about their reported unsafe properties.