OXFORD, MS (abc24.com) - Full of historic homes, nice neighborhoods are trying to keep them that way. If you live in Oxford, Mississippi the city could fix your property for you, then send a bill.
It's part of a proposed plan to crackdown on rundown real estate. The idea has widespread support in town.
Many homeowners are trying to tear down houses and buildings that are safety hazards. Preservationists say they never should have been allowed to get that way. They hope a proposed ordinance will prevent neglect in the future.
"If there are some dilapidated properties around, absolutely they need to be cleaned up," says Wayne O'Neal.
Ask most anyone in downtown Oxford and they'll say they appreciate the city's beauty.
"It's a wonderful town. It's beautiful, so I'm all for anything that helps them preserve what they have," says Mark Michalovic, particularly for proposed changes to city codes regarding property repairs.
"Before we just would be able to say 'You really need to do this,' but we couldn't make them,'" says Julie Spears with the Historic Preservation Committee.
The group just passed changes that would give the city power to fix neglected, run down or vacant properties then bill the homeowners.
"If they're health hazardous and detriments to the neighborhoods," O'Neal supports the plan, she said. "(Run down properties) lower appraisals on all properties around. You have to have guidelines, rules, regulations."
The group says the aim is to keep damage from getting worse. They'll start by telling the property owner. "They don't have to do a complete renovation, but if water is rotting a porch, then patch the roof. That kind of thing," explains Spears.
If nothing is done, the city will act. "We're not trying to get too personal or in their business," says Spears. "But it does affect property values in the neighborhood and the whole city's character and reputation."
Right now these are just proposals. The changes have to be approved by Oxford's Board of Aldermen. They'll vote in the next few weeks.