Blight Cited as Helper Business Deterrent *With Video*

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One of Helper’s most attractive assets is its historical charm. When driving down Helper Main Street many feel as if they have been transported back in time to better days, but are these buildings that attract such attention deterring potential business owners?

Lita Riley, representative of the HUB association (Helper Utah Businesses), approached the council Thursday to express her concerns regarding the disrepair of some buildings on Main Street.

“Can the city create a vacant buildings ordinance,” asked Riley. “ The building next to mine has windows that are held together with duct tape. We wonder if some potential business owners pass over the area because of how run down most of the buildings are.”

“We are seeking to increase traffic and many of the unoccupied buildings are an eye sore,” continued Riley.

With most buildings dating back to earlier than 1939, many are no longer in use, while some have been restored and house not only businesses but also many art galleries. In 2012 the city created a Board of Health to address some of the issues plaguing the city and help law enforcement cite properties that have gone beyond a “public nuisance”, and are now threatening the health or safety of the public.

“We as a municipality are limited as to what we can enforce,” said Helper Mayor Dean Armstrong. “ It really needs to be a complaint driven process, where our law enforcement is notified, and then when further action needs to be taken Attorney Gene Strait will become involved.”

“The State Legislature has made it very difficult to address blight,” Armstrong explained. “ The state requires vacant buildings simply be boarded up to prevent transient and animal access.”

Helper resident, Jinni Fontanna Lund recommended HUB help the owners of the vacant buildings know what grant opportunities may be available to assist in needed façade upgrades.

“The difference in how Helper Main Street looks now compared to when I moved here seven years ago is amazing,” said Lund. “There have been many improvements and needed changes. Some of these building owners may just need to know what they can do to improve.”

Armstrong recommended HUB become a support system for the Board of Health and Helper P.D. to identify properties that may be not only an eyesore but also a risk to public health and safety on Helper Main street.

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