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Alderman hoping to adopt stronger property codes in Welsh

Last Modified: Friday, August 08, 2014 12:12 PM

By Doris Maricle / American Press

WELSH — Town officials are looking to adopt stronger property maintenance codes to address blight, dilapidated structures and other maintenance issues.

Alderman Bob Owens presented the Town Council with a copy of the International Property Maintenance Code this week to consider for adoption at its Sept. 2 meeting.

“The goal of this is for the safety and welfare of the citizens of Welsh,” Owens said. “We want to hold people responsible for the health, safety and well-being of individuals and help with property values.”

If homeowners are not keeping their property up to standards, it can affect the health, safety and property values of surrounding homeowners, he said.

“We have people who own property here but don’t live in Welsh, and they are not taking care of their property,” Owens said.

Town officials have been trying to get rid of blighted structures and improve others, but there were no written standards when people asked questions, Owens said.

“This is a written set of standards that we can follow and hold property owners to,” he said. “It will have teeth in it.”

The proposal will raise the standards on how properties must be maintained and update existing and outdated housing codes to bring homes into compliance. It will require homeowners to keep their properties in “decent shape,” Owens said.

Under the proposal, the town will be able to cite people whose homes don’t meet certain standards and require them to fix the problem, he said.

The town superintendent will issue the citation, and the council will enforce it, he said.

There will be no cost for the first citation, but any additional citations will cost the homeowner.

“We are not trying to tear anyone’s house down,” Owens said. “We just need to address a few issues. If a person has a leaking roof, that can cause a mosquito problem. If there is a rat infestation, then there is a health concern for other residents.”

The measure will also require all homes to be painted or have vinyl siding. No home can have plain wood, Owens said.

It also addresses plumbing issues and the number of residents living in a home.

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