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Proposed ordinances target unsafe structures

by Tom Chillemi

Two proposed ordinances would give Middlesex County the authority to order unsafe and/or “blighted” structures be repaired.

The ordinances also authorize the county to perform repairs if the owner does not, and secure payment for the work from the property owner.

On Tuesday, August 6, at 7 p.m., the Middlesex Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance aimed at securing unsafe structures. The board also will hold a second public hearing on “blight abatement,” which relates to “deteriorating properties, including the improvements and the land on which they are built,” that have a harmful “effect on property values and the quality of life in the area surrounding them.”

After being notified by the county of specific repairs or improvements that are needed to be made to the unsafe structure, the property owner would have 30 days to respond.

The county could secure the structure to “prevent unauthorized access to the building within 7 days of such notice if the structure is deemed to pose a significant threat to public safety and such fact is stated in a notice.”

If the owner does not respond, all costs incurred by the county to repair the property would be charged to the owner, and if unpaid would constitute a property lien, enforceable the same as a tax lien.

In addition, a civil penalty of $1,000 may be assessed against the owner.

Blighted Property
“Blighted property” means any structure “that endangers the public’s health, safety or welfare because the structure or improvement upon the property is dilapidated, deteriorated, or violates minimum health and safety standards.”

The property owner would have 30 days to respond to written notice with a plan to fix the blight within a reasonable time. Failure to respond could trigger the county to “prepare a proposed plan to abate the spot blight, request the Board of Supervisors to declare the property is blighted by ordinance, and request the Board of Supervisors to approve the proposed plan to abate the spot blight.” The owner would be notified of the plan before the board of supervisors acts on it.

The county shall have a lien on all property to recover the cost of demolition or improvements made by the county to bring the blighted property into compliance with applicable building codes.

The complete proposed ordinances can be viewed online at

The public hearing will be held in the Middlesex Historic Courthouse in Saluda on Tuesday, August 6, at 7 p.m.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 07.24.2013

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