AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Aiken city leaders are discussing plans for an ordinance that could get a handle on run-down properties.

“You can see where it has holes in the roof. you can see where it’s got holes in the roof. The roof is actually collapsed in, got some holes in the back. And on the far side there’s a big hole in the roof,” Aiken Property Code Enforcement Karl Odenthal showed NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.

Four homes similar to this one have been demolished last year through DEMO 200. “I could look inside here the entire, I could see the inside of the house right through here. I could see there’s no wall behind,” Odenthal showed Shawn.

If a property becomes deteriorated beyond repair, the City of Aiken has the option, through the program, to demolish it for a small fee. There are other options for commercial spaces. “You can see where this structure is pretty far gone,” he said at another home.

A vast majority of the homes demolished were north of Richland Avenue. “We’re really losing pieces of that history when those homes are demolished,” preservationist Judah Londo shared.

There are other options available before demolition is suggested. “We have an involuntary lock cleanup program where, if an, if a property owner, they’re cited by certified mail that they have, uh, they have a defined period of time to cut the grass. If it’s not done we’ll get it cut and put the fee on the tax bill,” City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh said.

Residents are concerned about historic homes being removed and nothing added to the lots. “It’s a mistake to think of yourself as a homeowner and in reality, you’re just a caretaker of a home for a certain amount of time,” Londo said. “We’re trying to save what’s left because once these hundred-year-old homes are gone, they’re not coming back. We want to put those protections in place so that an owner has the resources to move on, someone that might wanna save it,” he added.

“The process of taking down the structure still has to go through the normal permitting process. So if it’s in a historic district or it’s a historic structure that would meet that normal requirement, it would still have to go through that process we could, before we could move forward on it,” Odenthal shared.

Grants and incentives could be available for people to renovate homes.

There are currently two or three applications in the queue. The program is currently on hold. A tour and work session is planned for April.