DUNEDIN – Planning and Development Director Greg Rice has been working for the city almost six years. Some homes in Dunedin have been abandoned or in foreclosure for that amount of time.
That’s too long, he and other city officials said.
For the first few years, they were able to maintain the properties by trimming trees, cutting grass and taking other steps.
“Now that we’re in the fourth, fifth or six year, we’re starting to see some deterioration of the actual structure,” Rice said.
Dunedin officials have not had the ability to abate such problems with the structures or had leverage with the mortgage holders.
They take properties to the city’s Code Enforcement Board and put liens on properties that are “long gone,” Rice said, “and very difficult to find. We most likely never will be able to collect anything from them.”
Consequently, the city April 3 passed an ordinance, called the “chronic nuisance property code” on first reading that puts more teeth in the city’s procedures.
The ordinance establishes registration procedures and measures to address criminal activity.
“Once we get a trigger and the property is declared a chronic nuisance, this ordinance is going to require that the owner provide an action plan to our Code Enforcement Board,” Rice said.
If that plan is not provided or not followed, city officials can go back to the board, which can allow city officials to take action to “fix these chronic nuisances.”
The costs can be put on the tax rolls, which gives the city leverage with the mortgage holders.
City Attorney Thomas Trask, who is also city attorney for Madeira Beach, said there were only two other cities in the United States that had such a code.
“So now that it was adopted in Madeira Beach, there’s that drastic change in compliance in that city. It’s been a very, very effective tool …,” he said.
Commissioners complimented Trask, Rice and city staff for developing the ordinance, saying it’s progressive and protects property values.
The second reading of the ordinance is slated for April 17.