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Lakewood Looks to Regulate ‘Blighted’ Vacant Lots

Think fencing, litter control, landscaping and general maintenance. City council takes aim at empty lots.

Property owners who own vacant lots or abandoned properties may have to begin tidying up their land.

Lakewood City Council is reviewing a measure that, if passed, would amend the parking lot ordinance to include language that requires vacant commericial and residential properties to be better maintained.

Think fencing, litter control, landscaping and better general maintenance. 

According to the proposal, vacant and unimproved properties that are “overgrown, littered upon, substandard, or unkempt” discourage economic development and can negatively affect neighboring property values.

Council president Brian Powers, who introduced the ordinance, said that law would give six months for property owners to clean up the property. 

For existing properties considered a “blight” on the neighborhood, the “clock would start ticking” once the measure is passed, said Powers.

“We just feel it’s important for our city, whether somebody tears down a residential or commercial building that the land in which it occupies doesn’t sit empty for a reasonable period of time,” he said.

“If they’re not in a position to begin to construction then it’s their duty to make sure it’s not an eyesore.”

The idea is to clean up the “general appearance” of the empty lots, which may include fencing and keeping up with the landscaping would also be regulated.

But the ordinance won’t legislate the details.

That will be up to the city’s architectural board of review, the board of building standards and the planning commission.

Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development, said the administration supports the proposal.

The city’s volunteer boards will be included in the discussion about the new law.

“I think it’s a designed to make sure that all property owners do everything they can to maintain heir lots, so that the vacant lot is neat, clean and well-designed in appearance so that it isn’t a blight on the neighborhood,” Siley said.

“I think councilman Powers’ proposal will establish standards to achieve that.” 

Among the current properties that would fall under scrutiny are the abandoned Spitzer auto dealership, properties held by banks and Rockport Square — on both sides of Detroit Avenue, where landscaping efforts recently began.

“Everybody points to Rockport, but I don’t know that’s fair," Powers said. "This is not intended to fit one situation only. I do believe it will get some action at Rockport — that may be coincidence, or it may about this topic."

The ordinance was referred to council’s committee of the whole for further review.

Alexandra September 26, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Anything is better than what is there now!
Alexandra September 27, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Ok, but use the plants to hide the fences, don't fence the plants in like the south street near Hopkins....looks bad....

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