Editorial: Council action against properties was warranted

Published 8:26 pm Thursday, August 30, 2018

We hear it time and time again that residents want the city to crack down on junk and refuse around town and other dilapidated properties. Yet, after the story came out in Thursday’s Tribune about the Albert Lea City Council’s decision to authorize the abatement of three properties deemed hazardous, there seemed to be almost an immediate uproar about that action.

We believe that response was not warranted.

The city has a process it uses to address not only properties with junk and refuse but properties that may be hazardous.

Homeowners and building owners are typically given a certain amount of time to bring their properties up to compliance before any further action is taken, and in some cases, the issues go on for many months, if not years, before further resolution takes place.

These properties have more than just some peeling paint, missing roof tiles or overgrown lawns. They have been deemed hazardous, which means there could be a danger to being in them.

The properties in this case were a business on South Broadway that has been found to have many structural issues, as well as the unsafe storage of a large amount of tires. There was also a house on Frank Hall Drive and a burned structure on Bridge Avenue that was damaged by fire in 2016.

Regarding the business on South Broadway, Albert Lea Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Laskowske said if there was a fire there, it would be likely to have to evacuate up to 500 homes because of the effect the fire would have on the environment.

Tires aside, we recognize that repairs to aging buildings aren’t cheap, and that’s why we are grateful the city in 2016 approved a program to aid in some of these costs. Business owners on South Broadway have the opportunity to take advantage of a 1-to-1 ratio of public to private funds up to $10,000 for repairs of windows, doors, masonry, awnings, lighting, signage, painting and other approved exterior, facade and landscaping improvements. That money may not cover everything that needs to be done, but it is a start.

While we are sympathetic toward these property owners, we think it is time some substantial action be taken on their part — not only to comply with building codes and guidelines, but for the safety of whoever is occupying that space.