The Chief explains more about the new blight ordinance the city council plans to adopt.

I know I have written about this topic many times, but it is the subject that continually comes up. Everyone has thoughts and opinions on blight, which means it is a polarizing subject in Sleepy Eye. I am doing blight checks this week; I will be checking every property and sending out notices to those that need them. I am not going to cover why blight is a large issue this month. I have spoken at length in the past about this subject, both on what is required and why it is important. I am writing to talk about upcoming changes with the city’s blight ordinance.

Last week, there was a meeting with city personnel, city council members, the City Attorney, and a citizen. We discussed the ordinance and what changes need to be made. A new sample ordinance is being created now by the City Attorney. The council will continue talks on this new ordinance at this week’s City Council meeting. In the preliminary meeting, it was talked about that the city’s commercial zones should have the same standards as the residential zones. Changes were also discussed about the condition of buildings.

One of the conditions talked about is siding and paint being damaged or peeling away; this would need to be fixed to be compliant with the proposed new ordinance. As you can see, there will be changes that will positively affect the look of Sleepy Eye.

Also being added is the ability for the city to hire work done on properties that have been notified and did not make the required fixes in the time allowed. For example, if a property owner received notification that a pile of old construction material needed to be removed and that property owner ignored the notice; the city could hire a company to go on to the property, remove the issue, and charge the bill on to that property owner’s property tax, ensuring that the owner would pay for the work that was done. This will ensure that notices can’t be ignored. A new charging system will likely be adopted as well. The first time a property owner ignores a notice, they would be charged with a petty misdemeanor, but if subsequent notices are ignored, the charge will increase to a misdemeanor and possibly on to a gross misdemeanor. These changes are merely being looked at now, but more talks and meetings will be coming this fall and winter so that next spring the new ordinance can be set in place.