The Willow Park City Council unanimously approved the adding of an article for dangerous, substandard buildings to the city’s building and regulations code ordinance.
“In the event that we have some housing that is dilapidated, unfinished or incomplete, this would give the city authority to come in through a building and standards board to take corrective measures on those properties, including condemnation and demolition,” WP City Manager Bryan Grimes said. “Currently, we do not have the ability to do that.”
In April, the Weatherford Democrat published an article about 18 homes in Meadow Place Estates in Willow Park that were left unfinished by Serene Country Homes, LLC.
Serene Country Homes started building in 2017, but never finished the homes and the city was told the company ran out of money, according to city officials.
The city was unable to get further communication from Serene Country Homes and has since partnered with other, reputable developers to start the completion of the homes.
WP City Attorney Pat Chesser said the city council should not serve as the board.
“I would not appoint the council as the board, this is a building standards board that you will appoint,” Chesser said. “You could serve as a board for this, but I would not recommend it.”
Grimes said the city can accept applications similar to the TIRZ board and planning and zoning commission.
“I can have that on the website and we can take applications,” Grimes said. “It’s a five-member board and we can maybe have one appointed by the July meeting.”
Chesser said having the board, which would be a quasi-judicial board, would be the most efficient and cost-effective way to address substandard structures.
“We already have building codes and maintenance codes in place to deal with technical issues, but we’re talking about substandard, dangerous structures here that we probably need to push either to fix them or take them down. So this will give us that tool,” Chesser said. “This is an administrative process and is the most cost-effective way. If you file suit, obviously its costs a lot of money, so this will be the quickest, most efficient process we can have to deal with such substandard structures.”
Chesser said the process would include a notice of violation with a 15-day response time followed by a hearing in front of the board. If the company is ordered to demolish the structure(s) they will need to do so within a specific timeframe. If a structure is not demolished, a final order to obey will be issued and if the company doesn’t appeal within 30 days, the city can then remove, repair or demolish the structure and assess costs against the property owner or owner of the structure.
For more information visit www.willowpark.org.