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Council Discusses Cleaning Up “Eyesore” Buildings

October 19th, 2009 by

 

Beverly Hudson lead a debate last Thursday during the regular city council meeting on condemning buildings for city clean ups. She opened the topic by showing pictures taken by Truman Hamilton depicting the old, abandoned buildings. Hudson wanted the council to enforce the ordinance already in place that states that if the council deems a building to be a nuisance they can condemn it and ask the owner to tear it down and clean it up, or if the owner refuses, the city can take down the building.

The council discussed with MEDC Director Truman Hamilton and MEDC Chairman Benji Ryburn what efforts had been made in the past. According to Ryburn, letters had been posted on the buildings, and the only thing left to do was for the council to enforce the ordinance and allow the city to tear down the buildings if the owners did not.

The council, Ryburn, and Hamilton discussed the fact that if they wanted to follow the ordinance, then once they posted the signs saying the building was condemned, the city could take down the building and file a lean against the property if the owner refused to clean the property up. The owner would then have to pay the taxes on the property or the land commissioner will auction the property for back taxes, and the city will collect its money first from the tax money.

“You got to the point where the city council had to say ‘it’s condemned,’ and that didn’t happen, so nothing happened from that point,” stated Hamilton. “There was nothing else our office could do.”

Hamilton also stated that the city fire department could not burn any of the buildings as a training exercise unless the buildings had been inspected to ensure that there were no hazardous materials such as asbestos in the buildings. The council discussed prices of inspecting all the houses and options for that.

Council members stated that they would like to see on paper what each condemnation will cost the city. Hamilton and City Attorney Bill Daniels answered by saying that prices for each place would vary. For example, if the city has to tear the building down, they will have to pay for an inspector to inspect the building. If he finds something, they will have to pay more for him to run tests on what he found.

“You could end up with a lot of expense here without know it,” says Daniels. “If you’re serious about clean up…if you’re serious about proceeding through with this thing, it’s going to cost money…and you’re not going to recover all of your money…but you have accomplished the purpose of cleaning up the city, so how serious are you in doing that, and do we have your support if we start going down that process?”

Sherrie Gillespie stated that one the problems in the past was that they would give a 90-day notice, the owner would clean up a little of the property, and the council would back off. After a few months, the building was back in bad shape, and the process would begin again. She also stated that even though some of the buildings are in town the owners do not live there, and they do not care about the old buildings.

“I am specifically addressing those that really would be deemed a nuisance to the point that they need to be torn down,” answered Hudson.

The council approved a motion to move forward with looking at properties that need to be condemned.

6 Responses to “Council Discusses Cleaning Up “Eyesore” Buildings”

  1. Lucas says:

    All the City needs to do is start to enforce the ordinance already on the books.

    The City use to go in and condemn a property giving the owner a certain number of days to clean up the property or the city would come in and do it and charge the landowner. That changed when the new ADEQ(Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality) rules went into effect in 2008 requiring the city to check for hazardous material before going in and just burning down a structure with no concern for public safety. They claim after this rule was put into effect that it would be too expensive for them to clean up these properties and that the city would probably not recover all of the cost.

  2. Tony says:

    I am proud to see the Council beginning to have an interest in the appearance of our fair city. While this might not be a “new” interest at least maybe now something will actually be accomplished. As stated in the discussion, this IS an existing ordinance, but one without follow up in the years past.

    I am glad to know that MAYBE this group of Council members will see to the enforcement of the city ordinance and clean up Monticello of several eyesores. I would like to suggest that after completion of cleaning up the condemned buildings the city council would push for an ordinance for “cleaning up” and maintaining buildings, homes, businesses, etc. that are also very much a detriment to the appearance of our city.

    Perhaps some of the expenses could be deferred by using clean up crews consisting of convicts, community service, etc. Aren’t there students learning how to use big equipment? Maybe that would be an item for consideration.

    I am proud to say I live in Monticello. Especially now that our Council members are making the effort to hold people accountable for the appearance of our city. We only get one chance to make a first impression on perspective businesses, industries, clients, and new citizens. I can only hope that the majority of our neighbors, family and friends will take the same approach as our City Council.

  3. Sue Smith says:

    It’s not just in the city. We live on a county road and a deer camp is right in front of our driveway. For almost a year, there has been debris from when they built a new ‘cabin’ last Nov., including lumber, mattresses, sofa, chairs, small appliances, etc. We have contacted the owners (the camp is leased), and even the Sherrif’s ofc came out, but nothing has been done. This is frustrating for homeowners who try to keep up their own property, only to have a ‘dump’ located in our front door! What else can we do?

  4. Royce Dickerson says:

    You can turn on South Maple off of Bolling Street and see two burnt houses, two houses that are grown up and one yard that is just junked up, all within 500 yards. This depreciates the surrounding properties. Why should we clean our places up if the rest of the block looks like this.

    80 % of Dillard Street off Jackson is falling down houses or grown up lots.

    Between North Gabbert and Connely Street two burned houses.

    Wood Street between N Gabbert and Connely has salvage everywhere and several grown up lots

    Who’s zones are these? Why haven’t they looked into getting it cleaned up? It sounds like the City Council needs to stand up and enforce the laws that they made.

  5. Mark Mason says:

    “Do you want a cleaner city, or do you want what you got?” Tough question.

  6. ree says:

    I have a neighbor who has trash all in the yard and it blows into my yard.From what I have been told about stuff like this,it has to be some kind of hazard or whatever to the public before anything is done.One person doesn’t seem to qualify as public,I guess.

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