More progress needed in razing ‘zombie’ homes

Minot residents have been patient. Remarkably patient. Still, seven years after the Souris River swallowed up much of the valley in the worst flood on record, dozens of “zombie” homes remain – largely untouched.

They dot the valley, some sitting smack dab in the middle of neighborhoods that were cleaned up and substantially rebuilt years ago.

Imagine sinking thousands and thousands of dollars into rebuilding your flooded property only to have the house beside you looking pretty-much the way it did when the water receded.

The city has been working on the “zombie” home issue but it is a tough go. On Tuesday, the city took another run at it. City council members, meeting in committee, voted to advance a proposal to address spot blight through an involuntary acquisition program with $800,000 in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery money.

John Zakian, manager of the city’s disaster resilience program, said the city has identified roughly 35 to 36 properties that meet the criteria. The properties must have been blighted due to flood damage. Property owners would be notified and would need to show intent to repair to be removed from the list. There also is a 150-day time frame in which the property owner would have to make repairs to stay off the list.

He said the goal is to remove the threatening conditions, whether that is through repair by the owner or purchase and demolition.

Additional grant money has been identified for the demolition costs for those properties the city is able to purchase with the funds available.

Taking part in the blighted properties program will be considered by the council Monday night.

Good. Finish the job quickly. The owners of these houses have had long enough to do the right thing.