JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The city of Johnson City created its first ever group aimed at making sure rundown properties do not stay that way.
The “blight task force” will play an active role in reviewing policies and procedures related to building code enforcement, property maintenance and littering.
Blight Task Force Chair Preston Mitchell says the committee would make recommendations to the Johnson City Commission for suggested policy changes.
The seven-member task force is made up of two representatives from the Regional Planning Commission, Historic Zoning Commission and the Board of Dwelling Standards and Review.
The Johnson City Commission also has one representative.
“They’re still bringing forth their specific board expertise,” said Mitchell, “but combining it with the efforts of this group.”
The group is not being modeled after any specific Tennessee city, but Mitchell said the idea comes from his previous community of Salisbury, North Carolina.
Mitchell said Johnson City residents and staff have reached out about parts of the community that are neglected or dilapidated.
He also said the task force is not looking for particular parts of the city to target.
“As we investigate and research all of our codes and all of our policies,” he said, “we’re finding there are hot spots in town that are revealing themselves to us.”
Mitchell said some of those hot spots include junked vehicles, dumping and debris, as well as dilapidated downtown structures.
“It’s hard to incentivize and encourage redevelopment and investment when you’ve got folks that are actively choosing not to maintain their buildings,” he said, “and part of this process on both the procedures side and also on the policy side is what do we need to do as a city to help either incentivize or get folks to work with us as a community to help lift up our downtown.”
Holy Taco Manager Laci Jordan hopes this will help to continue the success of development in the area.
“It’s grown so much in the past five or so years,” she said. “I just hope it continues to grow and clean up the area.”
The “blight task force” is not limited to just downtown. Mitchell said the group will oversee policies city-wide.