City of Baker agrees on changes to blighted property ordinance

BAKER, LA (WAFB) - The City of Baker is trying to improve its image by getting property owners to clean up blighted properties. Mayor Harold Rideau said the city is taking part of a pilot program with the Louisiana Municipal Association.

City council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to streamline the process of getting rid of abandoned and blighted properties. Right now, the law allows city workers to clean up those properties: mowing tall grass and picking up excess trash.

Once the city sends out a letter notifying an owner their property is in violation, part of the new law allows owners to make appeals before the city acts. Owners could also face fines up to $500.

"If we're going to grow, improve, got to be able to take care of blighted property," said Rideau.

For example, he said recently the old Pizza Hut, that was in the heart of the city and had its roof blown of, was torn down.

"Now it's clean, available for commercial building," said Rideau.

They're also hoping cleaning up the blighted properties will get rid of the health, safety and environmental issues that also pose problems.

According to Rideau, the old Howard Brother building has been a problem for years. They've asked the owners to fix it up, but no action has been taken yet. Rideau said they have sent word that the city will demo the building and put a lien on the property.

"We want to enhance the neighborhood," said Rideau.

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