Enforcement of new commercial code begins in one month

City of Fort Wayne Seal

Press release from the City:

One month out: Neighborhood Code gears up for enforcing new commercial code
Mayor Says Neighborhood Stabilization and Business Support Are Main Goals

With about one month to go before the July 1 implementation date of the City’s new commercial code, Neighborhood Code Enforcement (NCE) Director Cindy Joyner is busily finalizing the process that will allow many languishing issues to be addressed. The staff has been diligently working on getting this process pulled together, according to Joyner.

“We have shared in the community frustration about commercial properties that had fallen to disrepair and blight,” said Joyner. “For a long time, we had no tools to use with landlords or property owners who did not take care of their properties unless they were so far gone as to be a health and safety hazard. With the creation of Chapter 150 of the Municipal Code, we now have a process with which to address neighbors’ concerns about commercial property that is dragging down their property values and negatively impacting their quality of life.”

Mayor Tom Henry emphasized how important the Commercial Code will be in helping to stimulate investment throughout the community. “Although we are grateful to the Southeast Area Strategy group for finally raising this issue to a higher level of awareness and getting the Code revised, we recognize the problem exists in all sectors of our community,” said the Mayor. “As we begin to work with the owners of these blighted properties, the neighbors will see that we are serious about improving the appearance of their area; and as the attractiveness grows, the property values will also likely increase, generating more interest in more investment—a cycle we want to encourage.”

Earlier this year, City Council approved the new Commercial Code, as well as changes to the Residential Code. While NCE has had the authority to cite residential properties that violated standards, this is the first time the department will be able to address issues on commercial structures such as sagging gutters, broken windows or a deteriorating exterior.

Enforcement will be complaint-driven, Joyner said. “Our goal is to work with the property owner,” she said. “If an inspector finds violations, the owner will receive a 60-day notice to bring the property into compliance.” As long as the department agrees that the owner is making a good faith effort to resolve the issues, there will be no civil penalties assessed. Owners will be asked to work with NCE to establish a work plan and set timelines for specific tasks to be completed. “The key is to work together,” said Joyner. “As long as we see progress being made, we will continue to work with them.”

For those properties where there is no response or where there is little or no

work being done, NCE will issue an Order to Repair which means there will be a hearing in front of a hearing officer. The hearing officer can set a compliance date and/or assess a civil penalty (a fine), which can be attached as a lien to the property.

Commercial buildings, hotels, and apartments with four or more units fall under this Commercial Code. Previously, citations could only be given to interiors of individual apartments, which meant public spaces like hallways, laundry facilities and stairwells were not under NCE jurisdiction. The new approach will allow problems to be addressed in a more holistic way. With the revisions to the residential part of the Code, enforcement will now be more consistently and fairly applied to all property owners.

“This new Code allows us to strengthen and stabilize both the business community and the neighborhoods,” said Mayor Henry. “We want to be very clear that we welcome new investment and will protect existing investment in our neighborhoods, both residential and commercial. These changes to the Code do just that.”


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  1. This seems like a good idea. I know a lot of property owners let their buildings sit until they are essentially demolished from neglect. My only concern is for the historic buildings that are already heading down this path (such as a couple of the store fronts on the 1000 block of Broadway). I think that there is a chance that some owners of some pretty great properties would rather pay to have them demolished than pay to have them fixed.


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