What's taking so long for the city to tear down vacant buildings - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

What's taking so long for the city to tear down vacant buildings?

AMARILLO, TX - Hundreds of buildings and abandoned homes are labeled unsafe each year in Amarillo.

Building officials have the ability to condemn them, but the process is long and filled with loopholes.

More than 350 homes and businesses are on the radar for Amarillo building officials.

"Ultimately these unsafe structures create a hazard to the community," Building Official Scott McDonald said.

We found plenty of properties across the city with boarded up windows, graffiti and garbage----all things that can effect property values.

"The vast majority of these properties are vacant," McDonald said.

Condemning properties is not an easy task.

In fact, there are a lot of loopholes the city is looking to patch up.

"Over the years, people have learned that if they sell the property just before the condemnation hearing, it slows the process here in Amarillo down," City Attorney Marcus Norris said. "Also in years past, we have not filed these condemnation notices in public records."

Essentially what this means is before the city can close on a property, the owner tosses the building off to another person.

The city then must go through the paperwork filing process again.

To speed up things, McDonald is asking for changes which include the following:

*Allow city inspectors to open cases regarding dangerous structures within 3-14 days

*City will be required to mail notices giving property owners 10 days to secure the property and arrange repairs

*New changes to building permit policy

"We only have one type of building permit which is good for one year," Norris said. "In this ordinance we would authorize a provisional permit good for 60 days and will require the person to take immediate steps and effective action to repair their property."

City Attorney Marcus Norris is drawing up the ordinance to present to the city commission at Tuesday's upcoming council meeting.

Proposed ordinances must be approved in two separate votes by the commission in order to become law.

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