On January 30th, Meier & Son Trucking finished the removal of a house on the 400 block of North Philadelphia Ave., marking a major accomplishment for the City of Shawnee.
The demolition represented the 200th dilapidated structure ordered to be removed by the City since the inception of increased program efforts in 2011, significantly stepping up code enforcement. Over the past six years, this number amounts to 33 uninhabitable structures removed on average, per year, surpassing the original goal of 25 buildings annually. The ongoing demolition work aims to improve neighborhoods while removing potential safety hazards to the public.
Beginning in 2011, the City hired an additional code enforcement officer, doubling the existing enforcement capabilities. Additional funding was also budgeted for nuisance abatement, with a strong focus on the removal of dilapidated structures, displaying the City’s strong commitment to supporting and improving neighborhoods.
By the time many of these structures are reported to the City, they have been abandoned and through time decayed to a point where they become an issue of health, safety, and welfare. These properties are commonly unsecured, inhabited by vagrants, susceptible to fires, and are determined to be uninhabitable. There is also a strong correlation between dilapidated structures and environmental nuisances, including: tall grass and weeds, derelict vehicles, junk, trash and debris.
Once a complaint is received, the City works cooperatively with the property owner in an attempt to improve the building and ensure overall safety. If these efforts are not taken within a prescribed timeline, the City, following notice and a public hearing, may order the structure to be removed. If said property is not removed by the property owner, the City will hire a licensed contractor to perform the removal and bill the property owner any fees or expenses. If these fees go unpaid, a lien is then placed on the property.
Ultimately, the removal of problem properties provides an opportunity for quality infill development with direct access to available public utilities. The City continues to address the problem of vacant and dilapidated structure in Shawnee and encourages residents and organizations within the community to become involved. Individuals may call 405-878-1602 to report a suspected violation or complete a form online at http://www.shawneeok.org/ActionCenter/. The City currently has 21 active dilapidated structure investigations.