Trying again

City believes new wording, appeal step will re-start demolitions

Soon, it appears, the previously-suspended City of Rockdale program to tear down unsafe or dilapidated structures will be back on track.

Of course, “soon” is a relative word. Re-starting the process isn’t quite the same as hearing the motors start on the heavy equipment revving up to take down an eyesore.

But it’s a step in that direction. On Thursday, the city council gave second, and final, reading approval to an ordinance that’s believed to address concerns which caused Rockdale, and a number of other municipalities, to stop the program earlier this year.

Namely, the Dallas vs. Stewart legal case. Big D tore down an old structure, but was rebuked by the Texas Supreme Court, which said there hadn’t been enough due process and ordered that city to pay the owner $75,000.

That got the attention of every municipality in Texas in a big hurry.

“Due process” is in the constitution. It basically means the government can do things to you, but they have to be done properly—as defined by the courts—and in the correct order.

To facilitate another layer of due process, the new ordinance creates an appeal from the city’s Building Standards Commission to the city council itself.

That ought to do it. The city council is very good at all kinds of due process.

If the property owner still isn’t satisfied, they may appeal the demolition in court.

The Building Standards Commission will still make the original decision whether or not to demolish the property. But this would come after months, or years, of communication between the city and the owner.

Before the suspension, 27 dilapidated structures were demolished and 19 were in the “legal pipeline.”—M.B.

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