Tuesday, February 5, 2013
DALLAS -- The Dallas City Council is considering two ordinances to address "chronic nuisance" properties and vacant commercial buildings in the community.
The first to go before the council was a chronic nuisance ordinance, which the council reviewed at its meeting Monday night.
A chronic nuisance property is defined by the ordinance as any property upon which three or more "nuisance activities" are committed within a 60-day period. It also included acts committed by an individual associated with the property -- owners, employees, guest or customers, for example -- within 200 feet of it.
Nuisance activities include any criminal activity or code violation.
"The purpose of this proposal is to ensure that there are adequate and effective tools to deal with a property upon which there are repetitive and ongoing illegal activities," wrote Jason Locke, the city's community development director, in a staff report.
The ordinance outlines the process for city officials to declare properties a nuisance and work with property owners to resolve the situation. If an agreement can't be found, the ordinance also gives the city the right to take the owner to court, impose fines, or temporarily close the property.
Concerned for unintended consequences, Councilor Jackie Lawson asked about how the location of a nuisance property is defined -- essentially asking if a property neighboring a nuisance location could also qualify under the ordinance if violations were committed near it, but not connected to it.
No, according to City Attorney Lane Shetterly.
"It has be associated with the property, so there has to be a nexus there between the event and place," he said.
The ordinance is scheduled for a second reading and vote at the council's next meeting, Feb. 19.
The city will also address a vacant building ordinance to address chronic long-term vacant commercial properties at a future meeting.