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Pocomoke building ordinance change would add ‘teeth’

Pocomoke

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 11, 2018) Proposed building code changes could give Pocomoke City officials more authority to enforce standards on blighted and abandoned properties.

“The city manager and staff have initiated an effort to try and contact and reach out to many of our downtown property owners,” Planning Director Dan Brandewie said at the Monday City Council meeting. “What we have here is a draft ordinance to further that effort, to reach out to property owners to talk about the problem I think we have in the community with abandoned and vacant properties.”

He said some properties in the downtown had been vacant for several months, or even years.

“This ordinance is a new chapter of the code that would essentially identify those properties that have sat vacant and/or possibly blighted for a period of 90 days. We would send out a notice to those properties owners, ask them to register the property [and] we would then ask them to supply a property maintenance plan … and stick with it,” Brandewie said. “We’re trying to reverse the trend that we’re seeing with some of these housing conditions.”

A public workshop on the proposed ordinance was held Wednesday and a public hearing to adopt the new code could occur later this month, he said.

Brandewie added more code changes would likely be presented during the coming months.

City Manager Bobby Cowger said the ordinance would give city officials “a little bit of teeth to go after some of these properties that have been sitting 10-15 years.”

“We’re all committed to cleaning and trying to [revitalize] this town,” he said. “This is just another step.”