Columbia updates unsafe buildings ordinance

Published 11:41 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Columbia Board of Aldermen recently updated the town’s Unsafe Buildings Ordinance, which obligates a property owner or occupant to immediately remedy any defects in an existing building pointed out by the building inspector.

The building inspector is authorized and directed to condemn every building that is found to be “especially dangerous to life” by affixing a notice on the property and notifying the owner.

The building inspector is required to hold a hearing within 10 days after posting the notice so the owner can be heard and present evidence. Following the hearing, the building inspector may issue an order to repair, close, vacate or demolish the building.

The owner may appeal the building inspector’s order to the board of aldermen, and the aldermen may “affirm, modify and affirm, or revoke” the inspector’s order.

If the owner of the building fails to comply with the order, “he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished in the discretion of the court.”

The town may also cause the building or structure to be removed or demolished, with the cost involved becoming a lien against the property on which the building stood or, alternatively, against any other property of the owner within one mile of the town limits, except the property owner’s primary residence.

The final subsection reads: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit the power of the Town to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings, or otherwise.”

Will Crowe, town attorney, presented the revised ordinance. On motion by Alderman Bryan Owens, the ordinance passed unanimously.