Property Owners Could Face Code Violations in Wake Dallas Tornado Cleanup

City of Dallas code compliance will identify 100 or more homes and buildings violating code in the coming days

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There is increasing worry among some home and business owners in tornado-ravaged North Dallas that they could be getting letters from the city's code compliance in the coming days.

The area was hit hard by a tornado in October and the city of Dallas says the grace period for cleanup and repairs is nearing an end.

The mayor and city council received an update Friday on recovery efforts and were alerted to public safety and health concerns.

The city said the Department of Code Compliance waited until February to begin enforcement activities on properties that were not in compliance with city code, noting that health and safety concerns are "becoming more pronounced" in the past couple of months.

There are pockets of destruction and disarray that still litter the area.

Some buildings appeared virtually untouched after October’s EF-3 tornado touched down in North Dallas.

In recent weeks, the city has started to take action.

For example, a shuttered dry cleaning business along Marsh Lane has a big green notice posted on its front door that says, "OPEN & VACANT VIOLATION."

The building is or has violated Dallas city code, according to the posting, by not securing all windows or doors in order to help prevent trespassers.

The owner was asked to fix the issues within 48 hours or possibly face a lien on the property or fines.

A somewhat similar notice is being mailed to over 100 home and building owners in the coming days.

“It’s gotten to the point where some are just not making any movement in any direction, so they’re being sent more-or-less a gentle reminder that they do need to move things along,” said Dallas City Council member Lee Kleinman of District 11. “I think we’re really starting to identify some properties that almost look abandoned.”

Kleinman said the city identified over 100 properties, mostly homes, that were not up to code.

The city will ask to see what, if any, progress each makes toward recovery.

“It seems like there’s enough time given for people to either be in the process of taking care of their property or not,” Kleinman said.

The notices in the mail will ask residents to be proactive in fixing issues because citations will otherwise be forthcoming.

“It’s certainly easier said than done,” said Eric Lindberg of the Northwest Dallas Business Association.

Lindberg’s volunteer-based association has more than 150 members who were affected by the tornado.

He said with an unprecedented storm, the recovery process unique to each building owner, including many who are still navigating insurance claims and trying to find contractors to do the work.

“I think it would be a better use of time if the city came to us and said, 'Where are you in the process? What help do you need? How much time do you need?' Versus just coming out and putting violations up,” Lindberg said. “We’re taxpayers, we’re business owners, we contribute to the economy here. We’re trying to make the best of a bad situation and when you get a code violation on your doorstep it makes it more challenging and frustrating.”

Kleinman argued the city will set out to see if building owners are facing similar problems -- perhaps with an insurance company not working fast enough.

Kleinman added the city would likely move forward with fines or liens on properties that do not address code violations sometime in the spring.

The Northwest Dallas Business Association is holding three tornado recovery workshops and asked the city to have representatives from Code, Building Inspection, Economic Development, Homeless Solutions, the District Attorney’s Office and Dallas Police Department present to answer questions and hear concerns from business owners.

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