St. Clair Planning and Zoning Board members said more work needs to be done on a proposed vacant properties program before any official decisions and recommendations are made.
The board discussed the issue under old business when it met for its June meeting.
In April, City Inspector Jeremy Crowe introduced his plan in an effort to improve the safety and aesthetics of the city.
Crowe has said St. Clair currently doesn’t have any regularly enforced rules or regulations in the books regarding vacant buildings, so many of them sit empty, deteriorate and potentially become a nuisance and/or hazard. He and his office assistant, Diana Mabry, put together the program that includes rules and regulations, a vacant property registration form, a demolition notification application, and environmental regulations for a demolition project checklist from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
“I think a little bit of cleaning up needs to be done,” said planner Greg Talleur, who was sitting in on his first meeting as a member of the board after being elected a Ward 2 alderman in April. “There are some conflicts, and I would like to see at least a couple of exemptions added.”
The conflicts center on time tables mentioned in the proposed ordinance. Exemptions discussed included individuals trying to sell a residence that is vacant or properties that are vacant because of fire or weather issues.
Time frames mentioned were either 90 or 120 days after official notice has been served before enforcement proceedings would begin.
Another item mentioned were the number and amount of fees the city could assess for violations.
“It seems like every time they turn around, we can slap a fee on them,” Chairman Myrna Turner said. “We don’t want to fee people to death.”
The other planners in attendance — Doug Komo, Terry Gasaway and John McGlenn — were in agreement with everything mentioned by their colleagues.
“We want our properties to look nice and all that,” McGlenn said. “But, there has to be a way to make this process smoother.”
Crowe said that Mabry basically put the proposed program together pulling information from different cities.
As it currently is proposed, the vacant properties ordinance includes requirements, a registration procedure that also outlines the penalties for failure to do so, inspection requirements, maintenance requirements, boarding standards, liabilities, plan of action guidelines for repairable structures, a demolition plan and what happens when the property becomes occupied or sold.
Currently, the city’s code or ordinances includes a section on abatement of dangerous buildings.
Article IV, Section 6-61, defines a dangerous building and lists 10 criteria.
The next section discusses standards for repair, vacation or demolition.
“If the dangerous building can reasonably be repaired so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this article, it shall be ordered repaired.
“If the dangerous building is in such condition as to make it dangerous to the health, morals, safety or general welfare of its occupants, it shall be ordered to be vacated.
“In any case where a dangerous building is 50 percent damaged or decayed, or deteriorated from its original value or structure, it shall be demolished, and in all cases where a building cannot be repaired so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this article, it shall be demolished.
“In all cases where a dangerous building is a fire hazard existing or erected in violation of the terms of this article or any ordinance of the city or statute of the State of Missouri, it shall be demolished.”
At the end of the discussion, Crowe said he would like some additional time to restructure things included in the program. He said he could bring back changes sometime during the summer.
A motion was made and passed to table the item until then.