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Oklahoma town works to remove rundown structures

SEMINOLE, Okla. - The city of Seminole is cracking down on dilapidated homes.

City officials are posting violation notices on doors in hopes of bringing more life in to the community.

“I then draw up a notice of owner with the intent to condemn as unfit for human habitation,” said James Moon.

Moon knows his way around a home.

However, the structures Moon set his eyes on are rundown, broken and abandoned.

The Seminole code enforcement officer has been on the job less than a year and, during that time, the complaints from neighbors about rundown homes are increasing.

“It becomes a shelter for vermin, rats, raccoons, various other wildlife that can be vectors for disease,” Moon said.

The city is moving forward to get rid of more than 170 dilapidated homes.

The pressure to remove the eyesores came from the community, especially when the last code enforcement officer retired earlier this year, making it hard for the city to keep up with violators.

“For the last year, they've been building the ordinance that's going to take, to do all the enforcement and, of course, we brought on Mr. Moon, and we're now seeing the fruits of the labor leading up to this point,” said City Manager Steve Saxon.

The city will start with the 25 worst violators and give the owners an option to either get the structure up to code or tear it down.

If you choose neither, you could face a fine of $200 to $750 every day nothing is done.

“The council has felt that the dilapidated structures are kind of an anchor that has been holding us back,” Saxon said.

This is all in an effort to make room for new opportunities.

“There is a rental shortage within the whole county, much less the city, and they can be utilized to take up some of the slack on that shortage,” Moon said.

Saxon and Moon said the dilapidated homes bring down the property values in many neighborhoods.