Harlan council updated on building condemnation, housing ordinance

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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The Harlan City Council heard a progress report on action being taken by the city concerning a blighted property as well as the drafting of a proposed city ordinance to address group homes such as sober living facilities within the city limits.

Mayor Joe Meadors asked City Attorney Karen Davenport to advise the council on the current status of both matters.

“Our condemnation is in progress,” Davenport said. “I don’t have my appraisals yet, but I think they actually did an appraisal last week and just haven’t done the written report yet.”

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Davenport also advised the council on a proposed city ordinance intended to address accommodations such as sober living facilities.

“I’ve been working on an ordinance,” Davenport said. “The ordinance will apply to single family homes in the city of Harlan. We wanted to address an issue in regard to sober living places, but of course, any regulations we do will have to encompass all single-family housing. We can also do regulations for group homes, because a facility like that is essentially a group home.”

Davenport explained any regulations would apply to all types of group housing.

“There are a lot of considerations, so I have a sample for you that’s about 10 pages,” Davenport said. “At the end, I have some questions the council would need to consider.”

Davenport said she would provide the sample ordinance to the council members so they could prepare to discuss possibilities at a future meeting for a final draft of an ordinance.

“This is a thing every city is facing right now,” Meadors said. “Even with zoning, your hands are tied to a great extent…I may be completely wrong, but I perceive they’re getting a big push from the government – federal and state agencies – There is so much money in this. I think they’re pushing this in communities, they’re advocating for local facilities without regard to what the locals think about it and what the long-term benefits and disadvantages are. It’s going on everywhere.”

Meadors noted such facilities are needed.

“People need help, we can’t abandon them,” Meadors said. “They deserve help, but there’s got to be a time and place for it.”