Ongoing blight in the city
We realize that owners of damaged homes in the city’s flood zone have rights, and that every home still sitting in disrepair has its own unique story. But something simply has to be done about the so-called zombie homes that remain nearly three years after the Souris River flood.
No doubt there are homeowners who are legitimately still trying to figure out a way to repair their flood-damaged structure. We have no issue in those instances. But there are plenty of homes that haven’t been touched since the flood of 2011, and those abandoned structures present a clear and present danger to residents of their neighborhoods.
Valley residents who have spent countless hours and a lot of money repairing their damaged homes have every right to be extremely frustrated by the slow process of addressing the situation. Countless flood-damaged homes have now been fully restored to new-like conditions, but they continue to be surrounded by moldy, vermin-infested zombie homes with broken windows, weed-filled yards and crumbling structures. It’s not only an ugly situation, the health and safety of others in the neighborhood of the abandoned homes must be taken into consideration.
City officials say they often have little recourse when a property owner makes just enough of an effort to keep a damaged structure in compliance with health and safety laws and local ordinances. It’s a complicated process to give homeowners their due process before the city can demolish a home. It shouldn’t necessarily be easy to declare someone’s property a nuisance and demolish a home, but city officials certainly have the authority to change ordinances if necessary to address the situation.
Members of the city council must work to find a balance between the rights of all property owners in dealing with zombie homes. That won’t be easy, but council members are elected to serve the citizens of Minot, and to represent the residents of their respective wards. It’s time for them to do just that.