Regardless of what they were intended to be — an auto body shop, a warehouse, a grocery store — some commercial buildings in North Charleston have become eyesores.

The vacant and abandoned properties attract poisonous snakes and spiders and provide a place for prostitutes to hang out.

North Charleston City Council is changing that.

An ordinance that has received preliminary approval from council would allow city officials to declare commercial buildings public nuisances and to prove their cases in court.

The intent of the ordinance is to crack down on dilapidated or abandoned buildings that can become home to inappropriate or even nefarious activity.

North Charleston officials already have the authority to deal with residential property that is dilapidated.

Such houses are referred to the city’s Public Safety and House Committee for action.

But commercial buildings?

They haven’t been covered.

North Charleston’s chief building official, Darbis Briggman, said this ordinance is not a heavy-handed attempt to take anyone’s property.

It is a reasonable step to ensure that commercial property is maintained adequately so as not to detract from the appearance of, or jeopardize the security of ,their neighborhoods.