Blighted problem getting better for city planners

The City of Warren Planning Commission is still dealing with blight.

However, the cases the members are looking into are neither as frequent nor as serious as they were a few years ago.

The commission unanimously passed on three concurrence of blight rulings at its meeting last week.

The properties at 112 and 209 Jackson Ave. and 213-215 W. Fifth Ave. will next be discussed by the city redevelopment authority.

Each of the buildings is vacant and has a variety of problems. All three meet the criteria for public nuisance, attractive nuisance, and fire hazard, according to Building Code Inspector Alan Gustafson.

But none of the buildings discussed Wednesday needs to be torn down… yet.

“We’re not looking at demolition like we were a couple years ago,” Gustafson said.

“A declaration of blight is not a death sentence,” Chairman Don Nelson said. “We want them to rehabilitate the property.”

At 112 Jackson Ave., fire damage in the house and damage to the garage on the property caused by a falling tree are the main problems. Gustafson said the house has been vacant for “several years” and the exterior has not been maintained.

The 209 Jackson Ave. property apparently has more serious problems. Vacant since 2004, the roof is going. “The roof is in really bad shape and it’s only a matter of time,” Gustafson said. “We want to catch it before it gets to the point of demolition.”

The Fifth Avenue duplex has some obvious problems – blue foam insulation board is visible over most of the house and “window sashes and doors are rotting.” It has been vacant since at least 2010, probably longer, according to Gustafson.

Faced with the expense of fixing the property up to take it off the blighted list, family of the owners are “considering demolishing it, which would be a shame,” Gustafson said.

“At least the roof is sound,” Nelson said.

That the commission members are looking at properties that have problems, but not to the point that they must be demolished is a good sign of progress. “The purpose was to clean up the community,” Nelson said. “I think it’s been very successful.”