Council receives tornado recovery update
The City Council received a tornado recovery update from the Code Compliance Department during the May 16 work session.
Damage from the Dec. 26 tornado included more than 500 structures. Of those, 127 were destroyed, 102 sustained major damage and 113 sustained minor damage.
To date, 56 demolition permits have been issued along with 270 reconstruction/repair permits, 27 fence and accessory repair permits, and one permit for single family home. Almost 50 percent of the damaged homes have been issued permits.
There are some potential properties at risk of abandonment. It appears that no work has begun at these locations. There are no tarps, debris is still in the yard and properties are not being maintained. Either no permits have been issued on these homes or they were issued very early.
Letters have been mailed to the owners of these properties at addresses that are believed to be current. The letters inform owners about the #GarlandStrong campaign and other help that might be available. The letters also contain a request for these property owners to contact the city to discuss the status.
City officials have only heard from a couple of the owners but hope to hear from more in the next couple of weeks. The city’s goal is to give the property owners plenty of time before taking formal action to correct whatever code compliance issues that exist.
Complaints from neighbors are being received about the properties where no action has been taken. Other property owners are concerned about property values and safety issues. For example, there are 11 pools that are not secured. With kids getting out of school for the summer, there is concern about properties that are still considered hazardous.
The city wants to be as compassionate as possible but officials must have a way to deal with the safety issues.
The city staff recommends a “softer approach” than usual by the Code Compliance and possible waiving of administrative fees that would usually be assessed. Additionally, staff will place signs in the yards of these properties as another way to inform owners. The signs will also help in case neighbors know how to contact the owners.
As part of this process, Code Compliance would focus only on the extreme violations.
It was also reported that a significant amount of progress has been made in the six months since the tornado.
The council voted to follow staff’s recommendation of a softer approach.