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Ask The Mayor: Frankfort's Chris McBarnes

City of Frankfort

A push by Frankfort’s mayor could help bring down blighted buildings in the city – but it might also force the people currently living in them to find a new home.

Chris McBarnes, speaking on WBAA’s “Ask The Mayor,” says letters will soon go out to as many as 20 landlords whose properties have been deemed unsafe by the city.

If those landlords don’t agree to a plan to refurbish them, the city may raze the property and evict any tenants. McBarnes says the city can’t do much more for those evicted than put them in touch with Frankfort’s landlord association, though.

“We do have an organized landlord association – of course, that’s a private organization. So we’d be happy to connect those individuals with that private landlord situation and find out what other opportunities there would be in the city for that same type of pay structure on the monthly basis, but at the same time providing them a safe atmosphere to live in,” McBarnes says.

The city has recently created an entity it calls a “Hearing Authority,” which will hold open meetings with landlords whose properties have been identified as problems. The Authority may fine property owners who don’t work to remedy risk factors in their buildings or it may decide knocking the building down entirely is the best option.

McBarnes says he’s treating the landlords like business owners, even though demolitions of some dilapidated properties could put tenants that live in them on the street.

“People have businesses in our community and if those businesses aren’t in a fashionable state of safety, we’re going to go in and intervene," the mayor says. "So if we do have to demolish a home that has renters within it or that property owner can’t fix that property up to the standards that we believe is acceptable under the umbrella of the Unsafe Building Law, that will be up to those private individuals to work with the landlord or [themselves] individually to find another place to live.”

McBarnes says code inspectors who deem the homes unsafe for habitation should tell tenants they’re going to need a new place to live. He also says those people could be put in touch with the city’s landlord association to find a new dwelling, but the city doesn’t have a formal mechanism in place to help make that transition.