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Erwin BMA passes vacant building ordinance for downtown

The Town of Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the second and final reading of an ordinance that will require vacant building owners in the downtown area to meet certain guidelines or face a fine. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

On Monday, July 22, the Town of Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) voted unanimously to pass an ordinance that would allow the Town of Erwin to force landlords to bring buildings in downtown Erwin up to code or face a penalty.

The BMA gave the public time to speak out in opposition or approval of the ordinance prior to the vote, but no one spoke. Monday’s vote was on the second and final reading of the ordinance.

According to Town of Erwin City Recorder Glenn Rosenoff, Town of Erwin Building Inspector Brian Tapp would work closely with Rosenoff to provide notice to any violators of the city code. Violations would include any buildings that are not being kept up to code within the downtown district.

According to Rosenoff, anything from boarded up windows and doors, broken windows, dilapidated buildings and buildings that are vacant will be addressed. No sign of the building actively being marketed to potential renters or purchasers of the building would also be considered a code violation.

Once an owner receives a notice, they would have up to six months to rectify the violation. If the owner does not bring the building up to code, there will be a financial penalty.

“For the first year, the fine is $800,” Rosenoff said. “Each year after the initial fine will double until it reaches a cap of $6,400.”

According to Rosenoff, the intent of the ordinance is to enhance the current businesses downtown and to attract new businesses to the area.

Mayor Doris Hensley added that there are several grants available that could help those seeking to fix their buildings.

“There is no excuse when we have these grants available,” Hensley said.

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The BMA also voted unanimously to approve the closure of an alleyway located between 107 and 111 North Willow Ave. Alderman Michael Baker abstained from voting as he is a co-owner of the property.

“This makes sense – the alleyways on either side of the property are already closed,” Rosenoff said.

In a final order of business on Monday, Rosenoff said that the stop light located on Jonesborough Road will go live on Wednesday, July 24.

According to Rosenoff, there is currently no timeline for the installation of the mast arm and permanent stop light.

Rosenoff also reported that the property at the former Morgan Insulation on Jonesborough Road is scheduled to be pad ready in the next 30-45 days.