City taking first steps to tear down dilapidated structures
A little history will be made within the next month as the City of Rockdale tears down three long vacant structures which have been deemed in violation of city ordinances.

A fourth will probably come down within the next two months. The Rockdale Building Standards Commission gave the okay to proceed on the demolition work last week.

For decades many Rockdale residents have wondered if there were some way to remove long-vacant, falling-down, unsafe structures which dot all areas of town.

And for decades there wasn’t much the city could do, legally, other than contact property owners—sometimes even finding them is difficult—and ask them to maintain their buildings.

But for the first time there is a procedure in place which allows the city to do a great deal more than that.

The Building Standards Commission has the authority to order demolition, but that only comes at the end of a specified process.

Here’s how it works. Among the many duties of the city’s Code Enforcement Department, it is charged with seeing that structures measure up to certain standards, many relating to basic safety.

If structures fail to measure up to those standards, owners can be contacted and asked to correct deficiencies.

Corrections must be made within a certain time frame. There’s an amount of flexibility built in but eventually those deadlines come due.

Then what? After the process runs it course the Building Standards Commission has the authority to conduct a public hearing to “consider and take any action concerning an order to secure, repair or demolish.”

“Demolish” is the operative word.

Even at that late date, structure owners, assuming they can be found, may still appeal and could be given more time to make the necessary repairs.

The goal is not for the city to toss its enforcement powers around. The goal is for a better-looking Rockdale.—M.B.

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2010-09-16 digital edition

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