The goal of Frederick city officials continues to be to create a thriving place where all storefronts are filled with successful businesses, Mayor Randy McClement said Tuesday at a news conference.
"The fact is," McClement said, "try as we may, properties throughout the city are still vacant."
Taking the podium at City Hall, McClement said he hoped to clarify code enforcement processes and what the city is doing to encourage owners to take care of their property.
"In my opinion, the information out there does not show the whole picture," he said.
McClement said he wanted to be upfront. The majority of concerns that residents and business owners have about code enforcement is about a handful of vacant properties along Market Street owned by one entity, he said.
In the last month, downtown residents and business owners have focused their interest on one of these properties, the old Asiana restaurant at 123 N. Market St.
Frederick Gorilla on Jan. 27 published an editorial from former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty about the city's lack of fines on the property, and The Frederick News-Post published an article Feb. 24 outlining the city's decisions since October regarding enforcing code violations on the property.
The city's warning to the property owners to correct structural and safety issues in the building expired Thursday, and on Friday, the city issued $10,000 in violations to the owners.
A few days before that — and before McClement scheduled the news conference — residents organized a rally to take place at 11 a.m. today outside the Asiana to spur action from the city.
After the news conference Tuesday, Dougherty said the rally would still take place.
McClement said Tuesday that the news articles contained inaccurate information.
When asked after the meeting what was inaccurate, McClement said the city has not yet determined if the Asiana building is a "blighted" property.
Blighted properties pose a serious or immediate danger to the health, safety or general welfare of the community, he said during the news conference.
A property must be considered "blighted" to be applicable for a law the city established last summer called receivership, which allows the city to take the property and give it to a qualified owner.
To communicate with residents, the city has created a brochure outlining the city's code enforcement process.
The city has also added to a mapping tool on its website the ability for residents to search for live information about code violations.
McClement also added an item regarding code enforcement processes to the city's April 2 workshop agenda, at the request of aldermen and residents.
The city issues fines to a property owner only after it confirms a violation, issues a notice of violation and does not receive compliance from owners within a set time frame, McClement said.
When a resident asked what the city's process was for repeat offenders, Dan Hoffman, the city's code enforcement manager, said the city needs a more standard process for this.
"It's something we need to work on," he said.
If a building is condemned due to unsafe conditions, the building will remain vacant and condemned until the property is brought up to code, McClement said.
McClement said one concern the city has heard is that "all complaints are not being addressed."
"That is not true," he said.
McClement said code enforcement examines every case reported and recorded more than 872 cases since Jan. 1.
"We take code enforcement seriously and address it wholeheartedly," he said.
Follow Jen Bondeson on Twitter: @Jen_Bondeson.