Henlopen Acres officials have introduced an ordinance requiring property owners to maintain their properties and enabling fines for those who don’t.
The ordinance was first discussed during the commissioner meeting in April. Shortly afterward, a draft ordinance was posted on the town’s website for public comment.
Mayor Joni Reich said Henlopen Acres has some really beautiful homes that are meticulously maintained, but there is a handful of homes that have begun to deteriorate. She said the town doesn’t have anything on the books allowing for the enforcement of maintenance standards.
“It’s pretty straight-forward,” said Reich, adding Town Manager Tom Roth researched the issue by looking at surrounding town standards.
According to the draft, each property owner shall keep all exterior components of every structure in good repair; all surfaces shall be covered with a protective coating; all surfaces shall be maintained free of deterioration; all premises and landscape elements shall be maintained in a safe and sanitary condition; all paved driveways and walks shall be maintained in safe condition; all fences, retaining walls or similar structures shall be firmly attached to the ground and maintained; and all yard, courts or lots shall be kept free of accumulation of trash, garbage waste, rubbish, refuse, junk and other noxious or offensive materials.
The ordinance says if the town is made aware of violations, a written notice will be sent to remove and abate the problem within 14 days. Property owners may appeal the notice; after the 14-day abatement and appeal time expires, a property owner can be fined a $100 a day until the issue is resolved.
Reich said town officials realize in some cases the property owner is old and can’t maintain the property or is recently deceased and the family isn’t aware of the property’s condition. The expectation is that most of these issues will be resolved in a straightforward manner, she said.
Reich said she recognized the $100-a-day fine could add up quickly, but mainly it’s being used to get the attention of a property owner who receives the notice from the town. Two weeks gives someone a chance to contact the town and come to an amicable solution, she said.
Reich said a few residents have commented since the ordinance has been posted. Generally, she said, people have thought it’s a good idea.
Town officials are looking for more public comment either at the Friday, July 12 quarterly meeting or by emailing town hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.