Wimberley continues to address damaged, substandard homes

Nearly three years after floodwaters devastated parts of Wimberley, city leaders continue to address abandoned and substandard homes damaged in the event.

Shawn Cox, Wimberley city administrator, said March 15 there are still a few properties that suffered damage from the 2015 Memorial Day flood and are in substandard condition. Cox said the homes are not abandoned at this time.

However, city officials have in the past received complaints regarding some properties that were abandoned after the flood event. Cox said reports of vermin, snakes and transients staying in the abandoned homes have been logged by the city.

The News-Dispatch reported in 2016 that Wimberley city leaders looked at homes damaged as a result of the flood, in order to mitigate any safety hazards.

Mac McCullough, Wimberley mayor, said the city has “shown” that leaders are apt to talk with owners, but not threaten them, in addressing damaged homes.

McCullough cited a cabin near the Ranch Road 12 bridge over the Blanco River that had become an eyesore.

“They needed a nudge and they worked on it and made it an asset,” McCullough said.

But Cox said there can be legal hurdles when dealing with abandoned properties. Those processes could come into play once the city’s Public Works Department inspects a damaged home and determines if it’s abandoned, not habitable or substandard.

Once a home is deemed substandard, property owners have a set of guidelines to come into compliance.

If a property owner doesn’t adhere to those guidelines, the city could take steps to demolish a home and put a lien on a property, Cox said. However, Cox said the city is hesitant to do that and tries to come up with a solution before legal remedies are needed.

Crafting a solution, however, is a lengthy process as the city attempts to contact “any and every interested part” that has a stake in the property.

McCullough said he and former mayor and current city council member Steve Thurber have “gone the distance” with many property owners and have attempted to avoid coming across as “heavy-handed”. He added the city hasn’t  had “a hardcore case we can’t solve.”

“When it comes down to it, a ‘come to Jesus moment’ happens and the homeowner says, ‘I’ve had a good run,’” McCullough said. “They have to turn it (the home) into an asset or do something with it.”

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