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Neglected property ordinance takes next step

By Staff | Mar 29, 2013

A revised version of the city’s proposed neglected property ordinance came before the Sanibel Planning Commission on Tuesday, meeting with favorable comments by commissioners.

The ordinance was first proposed last October in the Planning Department and a draft proposal was submitted to City Council, which removed the vegetation and landscaping provision before directing planners to modify and continue the process.

City staff presented the revised recommendations Tuesday. The ordinance aims to deal with structures that have fallen into disrepair because they have been abandoned, foreclosed on or otherwise sit vacant.

It deals with complaints generally submitted by neighbors through enforcement, abatement (repairs) and appeals.

The ordinance is designed to deal with the exterior appearance of structures (holes, peeling paint, siding); roof and chimney material that could become missiles in a hurricane; property kept free of litter; keeping pools, hot tubs or spas maintained in a clear and odor-free condition; roof repairs; condition of external walkways, decks and balconies; and securing windows and doors so the structure is not easily accessible by wildlife or people.

The security issue would only come into play on a property that is obviously vacant or abandoned for more than 30 days.

“We don’t want people to think that if they go north for six months that they will become a target,” said City Attorney Ken Cuyler. “That’s not the intention. We are well aware that many of our residents come and go.”

Many homeowner and condo associations already have rules in place to deal with property maintenance issues, Cuyler added.

“This ordinance just gives the city a tool necessary to deal with this problem,” planning director James Jordan said.

Currently, there is no ordinance or code that would apply to a neglected property.

Commissioners were assured by staff that code enforcement officers would not be engaged in roaming city streets looking for properties to issue citations. Instead, they would be acting on complaints from the public or otherwise observed through chance encounters.

Jordan was directed to continue the process and bring the ordinance back to commissioners in resolution form at perhaps its next meeting on April 9.