NO VACANCIES | Council takes aim at empty buildings, absentee owners

Gladewater has too many buildings languishing in limbo in the hands of absentee and apathetic owners, Mayor Brandy Flanagan says, and progress demands action.
“I want us to be strict on this,” she told council members, city staffers and residents last week: “I don’t want to do anything that’s going to hinder people that want to come into Gladewater and do business the right way, but I for sure want to make it difficult on people that want to come in and hold buildings hostage and continue to make our community look blighted when we have businesses trying to get in here.”
The rest of the council seemed eager to act as well, directing City Hall employees to get the ball rolling on a committee that will reshape local ordinances to curtail the growing number of empty properties and unresponsive owners – soonest, before an anticipated influx of business interest tied to Toll 49.
“There are substantial businesses that would benefit our town so much,” Flanagan said, frustrated, “but we can’t get property owners to contact us back to be able to have the conversations because at the end of the day they don’t want to sell the building.”
Re-zoning will be part of the discussion, along with possible guidelines on how long a building can remain for sale without some degree of intervention.
“One thing that’s happening, some people are buying property, make a little money upfront and just letting it stay vacant as a tax write-off,” councilman Rocky Hawkins agreed.
It makes Gladewater look ‘closed’ to new businesses, Flanagan said, at a time when TxDOT’s road project will drive interest.
“We will have businesses that before never looked at us, certain chains, that will come in now just because of Toll 49. These things have got to be addressed because we’ve got to have places for these businesses to come in.”
In other business during the council’s monthly meeting June 20:
• accepted a resolution to move forward in Texas Parks 7 Wildlife’s local park grant program, seeking funds to continue repairs to the public pier at Lake Gladewater;
• the group weighed comments supporting and opposing a beer and wine at Chad’s (809 E. Broadway Ave.) before unanimous approval of a Special Use Permit for the business;
• approved new regulations to mitigate “aggressive panhandling” and limit permit-free solicitation to local organizations, requiring an application and $500 fee from outside groups;
• authorized City Manager Charlie Smith to advertise for bids for work on Guy Street in light of drainage issues apparently caused by lax rules under previous city administrators;
• took no action on the Gladewater ballpark following more discussion in closed session but authorized use of ARPA grants funds for the purchase of property on Hwy. 271 for a new lift station;
• adopted updated rules for manufactured housing – find more coverage at

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