Members of the Mercer County Commission are taking another look at a proposed dilapidated structures ordinance. This time they are hoping to use an existing ordinance in neighboring Raleigh County as a template in drafting a possible local ordinance.

Commissioner Greg Puckett said after the board’s December meeting that the Mercer County Planning Commission has been reviewing a sample dilapidated structures ordinance from Raleigh County over the last several months. The commission is hoping to have a draft ordinance available for review as early as its January meeting.

Dilapidated structures are still a big problem across our region. In fact, most area residents can pinpoint an abandoned structure that is in a state of disrepair in their individual communities, neighborhoods and towns. Some of these buildings are in danger of falling down.

Such blighted structures can reduce property values and make the county less appealing to businesses and visitors alike. So there is certainly merit to a carefully crafted ordinance.

The commission has been talking about such an ordinance for some time now.

Puckett says tearing down all old structures is not the goal of the proposed ordinance.

“The goal is to make sure we’re not going to be putting a hindrance on anybody, maybe out in our farming communities,” he told the other commissioners. “That’s not what we’re looking for. We’ve made that very clear that we’re not looking to worry about barns or worried about any of those kind of structures that may be falling down on a rural piece of property.”

Still the removal of unwanted and blighted structures elsewhere can help in other ways, including with economic development and tourism. Potential businesses and industries, as well as out-of-state visitors, may shy away from an area where a dilapidated and potentially dangerous structure is visible.

A region that is clean, and free of potential eyesores and blighted structures, is vital if we are to attract new businesses and additional tourism growth. Tourists, and potential entrepreneurs visiting from outside the region need to see vibrancy, not decay.

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