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City to file petition on property abatements

December 27, 2011

The City of Borger is planning to file petitions in district court for the abatement of two different properties.
After a closed session held Tuesday afternoon, the Borger City Council approved action to allow City Prosecutor David Holmes to file petitions in 84th Judicial District Court for the abatement of substandard structures at 117 West Second and 117 Deahl.
Borger City Manager Eddie Edwards said that due to a recent Texas Supreme Court opinion, many cities throughout the state of Texas have suspended their substandard building abatement programs. Several weeks ago staff proposed a process to City Attorney Angelique Weaver that involved taking any type of demolition the City of Borger proposed to take to a court of competent jurisdiction. She reviewed the process and found it to be appropriate and in line with the recent Supreme Court ruling.
The process will now be as follows:
•Building Official – determines through complaints, inspection, or any other legal method that a property is substandard and represents a nuisance and/or health hazard. The Planning and Zoning Department will attempt to use existing ordinances and/or municipal court to obtain compliance. Upon failure to obtain compliance, further action will be referred to the Building Standards Commission.
•Building Standards Commission (Board of Appeals) – conducts public hearings, listens to both sides, and ultimately makes a final city determination. Should the determination be demolition, Planning and Zoning staff would seek approval from the council to file a petition in an appropriate court and work with the municipal prosector on the filing.
•City Council – Edwards said that he and Kenneth Petr, Planning and Zoning Director for the City of Borger, are uncomfortable with staff or an appointed board having final authority to file a takings lawsuit in the name of the City of Borger.
The city council’s only purpose would be to authorize the filing of the suit and would not hear any appeal from property owners or any other interested parties. Since this pertains to a legal action, Edwards said he believes any discussion could also be in closed session as long as the motion and vote to file or not to file would be held in open session.
•County or District Court – Should the council approve the filing, the municipal prosecutor will file the petition appropriately.
Edwards said that in order to get the city’s substandard building program moving forward again, the staff was seeking authority to file a petition for abatement against the two above-mentioned properties that have already been approved for demolition.
City staff has not been successful in obtaining a facelift contract on either of the properties. Holmes has researched state law and the recent Texas Supreme Court ruling and created a petition to file in district court.

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