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Franklin bans boarding up windows at vacant homes

Owners will need to replace broken glass with more glass

Jan. 9, 2014

Franklin — The title speaks for itself.

"An Ordinance to Amend the Municipal Code to Provide for the Prevention of Blight Created by the Boarding Up of Windows Upon Unoccupied Dwelling Structures," was unanimously passed by Common Council on Tuesday.

The ordinance will require new windows — not sheets of plywood — to replace broken windows on foreclosed or abandoned homes in subdivisions.

"Obviously, it's an issue we all have in our districts," said Common Council President Steve Taylor, who headed the initiative. "We have homes that are foreclosed on, or sometimes dilapidated ... and this is just another way of getting staff some tools to handle (the issue) so the homes can look presentable."

According to the ordinance, boarded up windows are "unsightly and adverse to the aesthetics and property values of the surrounding areas, and negatively (impact) the peace and security of neighboring residents."

"They're eyesores for subdivisions ... and they bring down property values of the neighbors," Taylor said after Tuesday's meeting. "Whether a person is living there or not, homes should look presentable."

Maintaining an image

If a window is broken by vandals, vacant property is less likely to be targeted again if there are signs of upkeep, Taylor said. Vandalism could happen anywhere, but unmaintained, damaged property only attracts more troublemakers.

"Why would you want to advertise that a house has boarded up windows? ... You're almost encouraging increased vandalism by not maintaining it," he said.

Owners of the vacant buildings, typically banks, will be responsible for replacing the windows if they are broken.

Little resistance expected

The cost of the windows is relatively inexpensive when compared to the cost of the property, said Mark Luberda, director of administration.

"I don't think we would really find anyone that would object to the ordinance," Luberda said. "The banks in our community ... want to support (the property); they want to promote it."

"This is a fairly common code," he added. "The city of Milwaukee has it, and you will find property maintenance codes in many, many communities that impact unoccupied homes as well."

The ordinance will go into effect Jan. 18.

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