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The Buena Vista Board of Trustees approved a motion during its March 12, session to allow the planning and zoning department to continue investigating nuisance code updates to address vacant residential properties. Many lots across the town are filled with unsightly materials including overgrown weeds and refuse that advocates say are creating conditions that are not safe, clean, orderly or sanitary.

The board originally entertained the discussion last fall. Grant Bryans, Buena Vista’s code enforcement officer, reported to the board March 12 on potential changes to the Buena Vista Municipal Code (BVMC) during the meeting.

Currently, section 7-40 of the BVMC addressed vacant buildings, However, it only applies to non-residential properties and does not address residential properties. An example of the proposed updated code, presented to the board, reads: “Any person owning or having possession of any vacant property in the town shall keep and maintain such property and the rights-of-way abutting such properties in a safe, clean, orderly and sanitary condition. For the purpose of this section, vacant shall mean any property on which no buildings or other improvements are located; or on which the buildings or improvements are currently not occupied by the owner or an authorized occupant.”

A code update would allow the Town of Buena Vista to address vacant residential properties. In the example update, the conditions that must be met in order to justify code enforcement include:

  • Buildings in disrepair
  • Growth of non-native vegetation greater than 6-inches in length
  • Buildings on the property that, do not have a current building permit, are boarded up or partially/incompletely constructed.
  • Piles of lumber, scrap, trash, or junk that is visible from the street, an alley or a neighboring property
  • Mounds of concrete, tin cans, asphalt, weeds or any unsanitary material.

Bryans pointed out a few different properties that would be in violation of such a code. The most notable of which is a property located on South San Juan Avenue that has been vacant for years. According to Bryan’s presentation, “Properties like this are an eyesore and undermine the aesthetics of the neighborhood and of the city.”

Bryans added that the greatest concern is the safety of the residents in Buena Vista. Ultimately, the purpose of an update to the BVMC would be to mitigate the dangers to the public and improve the aesthetic appeal of Buena Vista’s neighborhoods. “Improperly secured structures, unstable buildings and non-structurally sound buildings are a severe hazard for those that may wander inside.”