Blue violation notices have been posted on the front doors of McKinney homes in recent months as part of a new code the city hopes will improve residents’ quality of life.
These violations come from a property maintenance code the city began enforcing April 1. Over 140 violations have been identified at 69 residential and commercial properties as of June 26.
The citywide property maintenance code outlines the minimum maintenance requirements for residential and commercial buildings. Code violations include signs of unkempt and dilapidated structures, such as peeling paint, broken windows, failing foundations and more.
This code is meant to improve the appearance of McKinney neighborhoods, according to the city.
“Our code officers, who inspect all the residential and commercial properties, have generally looked at high weeds and grass, junked cars, trash and debris,” said Lori Dees, McKinney’s director of code services. “So now with the [new code], we will look at … obvious exterior deficiencies.”
As of late June only 1% to 2% of McKinney has been inspected, Dees said.
The new International Property Maintenance Code was first brought to McKinney City Council during a Nov. 5 work session.
McKinney’s code enforcement office was looking for a way to better the community, Dees said during the work session.
“[The code aims] to improve the neighborhoods, the appearance and preserve property values and keep our neighborhoods from deteriorating,” Dees said.
The new code also aims to reduce crime fostered by neglected neighborhoods, according to the city. Crime is more likely to occur in areas that show signs of disorder or dilapidation, according to the Manhattan Institute.
Several residents, including Kathleen Lenchner, are hoping the code forces their neighbors to tidy up their properties.
“I love that the city is enforcing this,” Lenchner said in a Nextdoor comment. “We have some lovely homes in our neighborhood where they … appear to have things in order, except when it comes to maintaining their home, [including]peeling paint, rotten shutters [and]siding. … I feel it will make a huge difference in how east McKinney is perceived and especially the Historic District.”
Violations can either be identified by city code officers or reported to the city by civilians. Once a violation is noted, code officers issue a violation notice that gives residents a timeframe to make necessary repairs. Depending on the severity of the problem, code officers generally give 30 to 120 days for a property owner to comply, Dees said.
“We know [some repairs]are going to take more time,” Dees said during the work session. “… We just want compliance.”
If a property owner does not make repairs, he or she may receive a citation. The city could also put a lien on the deed to the building, according to the city.
Code officers try to find 90% of violations on their own through routine inspections, Dees said. The other 10% are intended to be called-in complaints.
“Right now we have three people to cover the city,” she said.
Dees said she hopes to amp up code enforcement once two vacant code enforcement positions are filled in August.
Most violations have been found east of US 75, according to city documents.
Some neighborhood homeowners associations are looking forward to the city’s backup.
“HOAs only have so much power, and as much as I hate to report certain items, sometimes we have no choice,” Kyle Sims, Robinson Ridge Estates HOA board president, said in an email. “… Help from the city on these homes would be most helpful.”
However, many residents worry that some owners will struggle to get their properties up to code.
“This enforcement is necessary, and it benefits all property owners,” Mike Ussery with Ussery Real Estate said on Nextdoor. “… But in McKinney, where in areas it obviously has not been enforced, it needs to proceed very slowly, and with solutions for the poor and elderly who are unable to jump at the neglectful city’s new demands.”
During the November work session, McKinney City Council Member La’Shadion Shemwell pointed out that many homes are battered because owners have limited resources.
“If they had the resources to do better, they would,” Shemwell said at the meeting.
About 10% to 20% of all residents who receive violations will need financial or volunteer assistance, McKinney Housing and Community Development Manager Janay Tieken said.
As of June 26, five property owners with violations have reached out to the city for help.
There are several options available for residents who need assistance, such as grants and volunteers, Tieken said.
McKinney’s Home Rehabilitation Program annually distributes $500,000 among residents who qualify for the low-income program. Another $150,000 was added this year by the McKinney Community Development Corp. to help residents comply with the new code.
Residents who do not qualify for the low-income program are still able to receive help in other ways. Neighborhood Services Coordinator Dana Riley connects homeowners with civic groups and churches that help with cost and labor for repairs.
Two houses have already received repairs by different church groups, Riley said, and repairs are underway at a third home.
“Most folks just really aren’t aware that they are out of compliance with the maintenance [code],” Tieken said.
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