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Council members: Enforce city code

Last Modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 12:27 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

Homes in disrepair but not tagged for demolition by Lake Charles zoning inspectors are causing a problem that several City Council members want solved.

District A City Councilman Marshall Simien and District C City Councilman Rodney Geyen have asked City Hall officials to help them understand how some homes that could be renovated are torn down while others remain standing.

“With some of these structures, people own the property and are waiting to sell and board the places up,” Geyen said. “Then the structures end up looking so dilapidated that they are an eyesore to the community.”

He described some property on Pine Street as an example of an area that should be investigated.

“These properties need to be either renovated or torn down. I want the city to move forward on these because it seems like they are off limits,” Geyen said.

Geyen contends that some properties have structures that have been boarded up at least 20 years.

“I want to see these homes treated in the same fashion. Even if they aren’t required to be boarded up, they need to be torn down.”

Simien agrees and said an aggressive approach to those types of properties have helped improve standards in his district.

After dealing with a number of “blighted” properties, Simien is of the opinion that “you have to let the property owners know that the train is on the track and only they can change that.”

The city code stipulates that property owners whose land does not meet “minimum” requirements could eventually end up with the structure demolished.

Simien pays attention to whether a structure creates a safety hazard or if it “allows certain elements” to create a problem for neighbors.

The code supports Simien’s position: “All buildings or structures which are unsafe, unsanitary, or not provided with adequate egress, or which constitute a fire hazard or are otherwise dangerous to human life or which in relation to existing use constitutes a hazard to safety or health by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence or abandonment, are severally in contemplation of this section, unsafe buildings.”

Structures that are categorized as such are supposed to be repaired or demolished.

Regarding structures that still stand but are questionable, Simien hopes City Hall can create a policy that “works in the practical world.”

Online: www.municode.com.

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