Council gives first nod to vacant building ordinance

October 13, 2020
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By Amanda Rogers

Mansfield Record

Mansfield’s City Council took some actions to start regulating downtown Monday night, both part of the new Downtown Strategy.

Owners of empty downtown buildings may have to start paying for annual inspections and to register their properties.

Council members gave unanimous approval to a vacant building ordinance on the first of three readings.

If the ordinance passes two more readings, owners of properties in the Downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) will need to notify the city when their buildings are vacated, explained Matt Jones, director of planning and development services.

“The point is to protect buildings that might fall into disrepair or sit vacant for an extended period of time,” Jones said. “If we can raise property values and discourage vacancies, that is the reason for the ordinance. Staff would use common sense in applying the ordinance.”

“When we notice it’s vacant, we notify the owner and the ordinance kicks in 90 days from that written notice,” Jones said. “Basically, it’s a vacant building registry.”

Owners would pay $50 to register their building the first year and $250 for subsequent years and $50 for an annual inspection. The ordinance does not apply to residential properties, Jones said.

“If you do not register your property, if you do not maintain the structure to the level required, you can be fined up to $2,000 a day,” he said. “If you have a building permit in, this does not apply to you. If you are actively marketing for sale or lease with an active Realtor, this doesn’t apply to you.”

People have been ignoring or couldn’t figure out the new back-in parking in downtown have a short window to get it right. The council unanimously approved a first reading that will allow police to enforce the back-in parking and to designate no-parking areas during special events.

Currently, there is no ordinance that would allow the police to enforce the new parking pattern on Main Street, said Police Chief Tracy Aaron. Before the police start writing tickets, though, there will be some public education and warnings, he said. A ticket could carry a fine up to $500, Aaron said.

The reading requires two more approvals from the city council.

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Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.

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