Fight against blight: Environmental court program to get underway in mid-November

Fight against blight: Environmental court program to get underway in mid-November

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The fight against blight is taking a giant step forward in the city of Shreveport. It’s all thanks to the city’s new ‘environmental court’ that’s been a year in the making, with some saying it’s about time it’s finally getting underway.

Blight takes many forms in the city of Shreveport from piles of trash to broken down cars parked in a front lawn, to dilapidated or condemned properties on the verge of collapse.

Just ask Shreveport city councilman Grayson Boucher.

“Anybody who rides through the city of Shreveport can tell we’ve got a real issue with it.”

Boucher serves as chairman of the property standards committee and will unveil more details at Thursday’s committee meeting on Shreveport’s Environmental Court.

“Some of it could be monetary, could be fines, fees. It could be alterations to the property that must be done or it could be demolition. So, there’s all different tools in the tool bag with this ordinance that was passed.”

Boucher says this new system will ease the backlog that had built up in city court and send a strong message to the public.

“I think if you’ve got a stack full of notices that you’ve gotten from the city and you feel like nothing’s going to happen to you because it hasn’t yet, hold on 'cuz we’re coming.”

Two hearing officers have been named to Shreveport’s Environmental Court, to determine punishments, which can be appealed in Caddo Parish District Court.

Shreveport Property Standards Director Terrence Green says citizens will be able to see the results of the court soon.

Most of the people we deal with, they’re habitual. Most of the citizens here in Shreveport they want their property rights to be protected, their health safety and welfare to be protected. So, you know, and that’s what we’re mainly here to do."

Green says the process begins with the public getting involved and reporting blight.

“When you call in communicate these things that are going on within your area to your inspector so that they can hurry up and get this thing in because we do have a process. It’s not instamatic, it doesn’t happen overnight. But we have to work together.”

One of the most notable eyesores is the long John Silver’s restaurant, destroyed by fire September 4, 2018 yet still stands prominently, right across from Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport on Kings Highway.

It has not gone unnoticed, as we learned after speaking with local residents like Pam Spitler.

“It seems as though that the owner would either go ahead and repair it or have it torn down. The city of Shreveport, I thought they would have a building code that would cover something like this.”

It does. And now that the environmental court begins meeting in November, this is one of the first structures to be looked at.

So too will be the slow-motion demolition of the former Don’s Seafood Restaurant, destroyed by fire on January 30, 2020.

Boucher and others hope to eliminate the backlog of blight cases in the next 6 months.

That environmental court all starts on November 17th, with court hearings on the first and third Tuesday of the month at Government Plaza.

Anyone wishing to report property standard violations are urged to call (318) 673-6200.

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