January 15, 2014

City council sets stricter rules for boarded-up windows, doors

Materials must be painted, time limit instituted.

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — Stricter measures are on the way for boarded-up windows and doors in an effort to reduce blight in Logansport.

The new rules are reflected in an amendment recently passed by Logansport City Council to the city’s ordinance pertaining to abandoned buildings.

“[M]aterials applied to temporarily secure doors and windows must be surface coated with exterior grade paint matching the exterior of the subject structure,” the amendment states.

When the amendment came before council, it stated the materials used to secure the windows and doors could not be in place for more than 45 days out of any two consecutive calendar years.

Logansport City Councilman Chuck LaDow said at the meeting he understood the need to reduce blight, but felt in many cases it’s actually safer to board up empty windows and doors. He then introduced an amendment increasing the amount of days materials could be in place from 45 to 180 and reducing the number of calendar years from two to one.

The amendment passed unanimously, as did the measure in its entirety. The council will hold its second and final vote on the matter at its Feb. 3 meeting.

City officials expressed support for the measure when it was first introduced to city council in committee earlier this month.

Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin said there are several properties in town with boarded-up windows and doors owned by banks, companies and individuals based in other cities. The owners’ distances contributes to their lack of desire to improve properties’ appearances, he said.

“Curb appeal is gone when they just put plywood up and walk away from it,” Franklin said.

Before their unanimous approval, council members expressed concerns in committee that making the city accountable for keeping tabs on all of the boarded-up windows and doors may be too big of a responsibility.

Franklin set out to put council members at ease by explaining each case would be evaluated on an individual basis.

“We can enforce it to the extent that we have money to enforce it,” Franklin said.

Logansport Building Commissioner Bill Drinkwine said much of the motivation for the stricter rules comes from wanting to target the extreme violators with the hopes that it will lead to others changing their ways on their own.

“If we can continue to make people aware that we’re being meticulous, then it’ll turn around,” Drinkwine said.

As far as penalties, Franklin said there are several avenues in which the city could “apply pressure.”

“We’re not looking to drag people to court,” Franklin said.

Logansport City Councilman Jeremy Ashcraft said the issue is “challenging and always will be a challenge,” but praised the amendment for being able to “give [Drinkwine] some teeth” when enforcing the city’s abandoned building ordinance.

“If it fixes two properties in town that are visible, then it’s done something,” Ashcraft said.