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Weslaco City Officials Planning to Address Abandoned Homes

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WESLACO – People in one Rio Grande Valley city want abandoned homes in their neighborhoods torn down. They said broken glass or exposed wires pose a danger.

The Weslaco Planning Department said around 20 to 25 abandoned structures are reported in the city every year. Some who live next to the properties are concerned about what hazards are associated with them.

Jose Ortiz has lived on Abilene Drive since 1972. An abandoned home just a half a block away has him concerned.

“Because when there’s an abandoned place, the grass grows and that can cause animals to be around and it can cause harm to someone older like us,” he said.

Ortiz said he sees young people around the abandoned property.

“It could be dangerous for the kids that come from school, they could think it’s easy to go to an abandoned home,” he said.

Weslaco Planning Director Mardoqueo Hinojosa said his department demolishes some abandoned properties.

“We deal with dilapidated structures every year. We have our inspectors drive around Weslaco and look at sites to see what’s been abandoned, what’s not structurally sound and what might be a health hazard,” he said.

Hinojosa reported 10 abandoned buildings were torn down in a sweep last November and December. He said the city often locates these abandoned homes with tips from residents.

“We send the notifications, we do the inspections. Once it’s time to actually knock the building down, we do this in coordination with our public works staff, which they do help in terms of knocking the houses down and cleaning the properties,” he said.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to Hinojosa about the abandoned home on Abilene Street. He said buildings cannot be torn down without the green light from city council.

He said if someone lives in Weslaco and wants to report an abandoned building, they can call his department at (956) 447-3401.

The next city council meeting is set for next Tuesday. The council will discuss what they will do with the home on Abilene Street.

The process of tearing down abandoned buildings comes at a price to Weslaco taxpayers. Hinojosa said the price of the November/December demolition of 10 abandoned homes was $60,000 for the planning department and another $20,000 for the city public works department. 

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