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Lakewood to Get Tough on 'Eyesore' Empty Lots

City council passes a measure that will require property to maintain vacant, abandoned lots.

A week from now, the clock will start ticking for the owners of vacant and abandoned properties to start cleaning up their land.

They will have six months to do so.

On Monday night, Lakewood City Council passed a measure that amended the parking lot ordinance to include language that requires vacant commercial and residential properties to be better maintained.

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

Council hammered out some of the final details in its committee of the whole meeting Monday. 

One of those details is that the ordinance will take effect — retroactively in some cases — on property owners starting next Tuesday.

At-large city councilman Brian Powers, who introduced the ordinance, said the idea behind the ordinance was to encourage property owners to re-build shortly after the demolition of a structure.

“If there are unimproved or vacant lots of after a structure has been torn down, it gives some reasonable amount of time to begin construction,” he said, noting that there are only a handful of such properties in the city. 

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

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.

However, 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.

“It’s putting responsibility back on the owner of the lot,” said Ward 4 councilwoman Mary Louise Madigan. “If this gives us more strength to deal with a landowner — whether it’s a homeowner or a large corporation — if they don’t care, they’re going to be forced to care now.”

Alexandra October 16, 2012 at 12:55 PM
So.far not impressed with Rockport clean up...still ugly, a few arborvitae does not cover up the ugliness..
angelo October 16, 2012 at 04:47 PM
It's a step in the right direction. An empty lot the size of Rockport's requires a special set of measures especially when public money was used to aid the development such as tax abatements. If after a period of years the developer has failed to develop the lot they should be forced to sell. How much income is the city losing by having that lot empty?
Charles Franck October 16, 2012 at 10:32 PM
When will council start putting pressure on the deadbeats that actually live in homes and are too lazy to keep them up? I suggest any of them take a walk down Lakewood Heights Blvd and think back on how it used to be. I am a homeowner that still keeps a beautiful home on that very street and I am watching the neighborhood go to pot!
DLSJR November 25, 2012 at 06:40 PM
As a property owner it's sad to feel this way but the city will never do anything about our neighborhoods, they will just act surprised when they receive complaints. I have been complaining about the slumlords in the 11800 block of Clifton for 5 years now. I still have neighbors/slumlords with over grown yards and an unbelievable pigeon issue that the city has been out my neighbors property to see and has done nothing about it. As city tax payers we should ask the city why they would go back on their "word" that now has left their tax paying residents looking at prime vacant commercial lots? The city's has some asinine rules on commercial properties, and it's the city's own fault that some these properties are now vacant. Not only is the property owner losing out on the income (whole reason for buying it), but the city now loses out on tax dollars.

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