Killeen cracks down on vacant property owners; could face a fine up to $2,000 a day
KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - Vacant building owners in downtown Killeen will pay a hefty fine of up to $2,000 a day if they don’t register them soon.
City council is cracking down on these owners so they city can move forward with revitalizing the area.
The “no trespassing” signs and broken windows are making it hard for some business owners like Isabel Nunoc.
“It’s terrible. It’s terrible because a lot of people don’t want to come to downtown Killeen because they see the buildings are empty with garbage. That (entices) the homeless to sleep in front of the buildings,” said Nunoc.
She said she’s owned Ricon de Panama since 2015 and is passionate about what downtown has to offer. “This is history here and you guys have to bring your history up so people want to come over here,” said Nunoc.
City Councilman, Jose Segarra explained the city council passed an ordinance Tuesday that requires owners of the buildings to register them as vacant, or pay a fine of up to $2,000 a day.
“You’re going to start accumulating a new fine. What we’re hoping is that it gets people’s attention. They’ll say, ‘wait a minute.’ It’ll get them all riled up. It will get them angry, whatever it is,” said Segarra.
“That is good, so they can do something for these buildings. So, the people who want to work for Killeen, they’ll have the opportunity to do it, and then we’ll have customers come to us because they’ll see something different,” said Nunoc.
Segarra said if the property owner doesn’t pay the fines, then they’ll have to go to court.
He said if they ignore that process, he’s hopeful the city can take it a step further by putting liens on the vacant buildings.
“It’s a tax lien, then you can sell that building to pay off any type of leans that there is,” said Segarra.
Segarra said the goal is to revitalize the area and make from more potential business owners and more customers.
Nunoc said she can see the future of downtown Killeen and said the city is making the right steps towards it.
“Give Killeen the opportunity to grow, to be better, so we can have more customers. This is your history so let it be exposed,” said Nunoc.
Officials said 29 out of the 35 vacant properties are not registered as vacant.
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