COPPERAS COVE — The city is moving forward with creating a new ordinance that will help it remove unsafe and dangerous structures.
It may be January before the city drafts a new ordinance on how to remove dangerous structures from properties that haven’t been properly kept, but the Copperas Cove council and staff started discussing those procedures and the city’s possible future regulations last month.
Copperas Cove has been looking to create a process that will allow the city to demolish structures that are hazards to the health and safety of residents for more than two years, said City Manager Andrea Gardner.
“We were proactive for about two years,” said Mike Morton, the city’s chief building official. “We went out and tagged 32 (structures).”
But a lawsuit against Dallas put the breaks on the process about 18 months ago, as the city wanted to see the results of the case, Gardner said. Now that the case is over, the city is moving forward.
Of the 32 structures previously tagged, about 15 have been taken down, but Morton suspected there were a total of 50 unsafe structures throughout the city, he said.
Drafting the ordinance is just the first step in the city’s process to remove the structures, Gardner said. The ordinance is required by state law and must outline the city’s procedures and abide by state laws.
Another step would be securing funding to contract the demolition of the structures, Gardner said, which is something the council will decide during the next budget cycle. There are currently no funds budgeted for such activities in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
“If we don’t have the ability to take them down, then we are just spinning our wheels,” said Morton, noting the city must come up with funding if it wants to remove the hazardous buildings.
Demolishing a structure will be the city’s last resort, but it should be an option for the city, several council members said in October.
“It is important that we explore all our options if (the structures) are unsafe,” Councilman Jim Schmitz said during the October meeting.
In most cases the city hopes to work with property owners, Gardner said. “That would be the best-case scenario, to get the property owners to take care of the property.”
But part of the city’s problem with dilapidated buildings, is that many property owners don’t live in Copperas Cove or even Texas, she said. “They may not even be aware that some of their properties are dangerous.”