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How Gainesville hopes to address issues like boarded-up buildings, donation boxes
City of Gainesville Administrative Building1.jpg

Gainesville plans to make changes to the city’s unified land development code to address concerns about issues such as boarded-up buildings, outdoor furniture and items crowding around donation boxes.

Rusty Ligon, Gainesville’s community development director, said property sweeps in the city have shown some gaps in the current ordinance.

One change in the proposed ordinance is a requirement for registered agents, or points of contact, for code enforcement issues at multi-family properties with six or more units. This would not affect single-family homes or small rental properties, Planning Manager Matt Tate said.

The agent would have to be located in Hall County and be available seven days a week to accept violation notices. Having an agent would be required for any multi-family property to be issued a business occupation tax certificate, either when a new apartment complex opens or when an existing one applies for renewal, Tate said.

Ligon said enforcement for registered agents would start in 2019. The proposal is modeled after what city staff has seen other communities do, he said.

“This is not a problem we run into a lot, but when we do, it’s important that we’re able to find somebody. If there’s a violation on the property, we need to be able to get somebody fairly quickly,” Ligon said.

Another potential change to the ordinance addresses outdoor furniture. Furniture placed outside a home would have to be intended for outdoor use. However, city staff would only go to the back of a house if a complaint was filed, so the ordinance would address what is visible from the road.

The proposed ordinance also prohibits people from placing tarps on a porch or exterior of a building, unless it is designed to cover something like a grill or a lawnmower. Camping tents are allowed for up to 72 hours.

“A lot of times what’s behind that tarp leads to bigger issues, so you may have leaks turning into mold and mildew and things like that, so we want to make sure these types of situations are addressed,” Tate said.

Boarded-up structures are another focus of the proposed ordinance. People who want to board up a structure would need to apply for a permit, which will be free, that will allow the building to be boarded up for six months. The permit can be renewed once, so the maximum amount of time a building could be boarded up would be one year.

Any boarded-up structure must also have posted 24-hour contact information.

“We do know of some that have been boarded up for several years, and it’s time that we address it,” Ligon said.

Another one of the city’s efforts targets donation boxes, which would only be allowed in light or heavy industrial zoning districts and would need to be on the same property as an organization with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation. The donation boxes would be required to be placed up against a building wall.

“They attract garbage, because people want to throw everything in there, not just clothes,” Ligon said.

Additionally, items that no longer work such as old telephone booths will have to be removed under the proposed ordinance.

The Gainesville City Council will be voting on the changes at their Tuesday, Aug. 7 meeting, although there is no public hearing scheduled.

Gainesville City Council

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7

Where: Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway