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.”