Council discusses problem property
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
The Jacksonville City Council Monday postponed action on an appeal by a property owner over orders to remediate or remove a structure deemed unsafe at 83 C Street Southwest.

Attorney Joseph Maloney spoke on behalf of property owner Larry Yevick, requesting the council remove the timetable given by the Building Department, which ordered the unsafe or dangerous conditions remedied or the structure demolished within 60 days.

A notice signed by Building Inspector Mark Williams and Code Enforcement Officer David Bryant and dated Aug. 10 was sent to Yevick’s company Cal Pac Developments, warning that if the structure was neither remedied nor demolished, the structure would be demolished at the city’s expense and the cost assessed against the property.

Maloney told the council that the electricity had been disconnected in order to remove the threat of an electricity-induced fire, windows had been boarded up and holes on the structure had been patched. “We have secured the home against vandals and varmits,” he said, adding the structure was not occupied and they had voluntarily “removed such conditions which posed a hazard to the public.”

Williams said the holes were not sufficiently sealed and that as recently as that afternoon he had seen several places where vermin could get into the structure.

“The house probably will become rat infested,” he said, “and then it’s going to go to the neighbors.”

In addition to the potential sanitary problems, Williams noted structural damage as well, including a large tree root that is growing under foundation of the house. “The foundation wall is leaning …The tree is still alive, and it’s still growing, so it’s cracking tonight even more.”

He pointed to a number of problems—any of which he said could deem the structure unsafe—including rotting seals on the outside of the property and other issues such as holes in the floor, rotting support members, asbestos shingles that have fallen or are falling, a sagging roof he predicts will collapse, and loose concrete block columns in the front of the house.

The columns, he said, wiggle at the touch. “If a kid comes up there and plays around it and one of those columns falls on them, they’ll get killed.”

Williams said that when property owners have a building permit and are making progress on repairs, the Building Department will reissue the permit and allow the work to continue but also noted that Yevick has not applied for a permit to make repairs.

But Maloney argued the notice did not properly reference the city ordinance that details the nine factors constituting a public nuisance, and thus, did not fully inform his client of the needed remediation.

“The notice provides for the state statute, and that’s what we addressed,” he said. Maloney, who is also the city magistrate, also addressed potential conflicts of interest that could arise from that position. He noted both the city and his client know of the situation and neither has expressed concern. City attorney Richard Rhea agreed there is no legal conflict of interest per Alabama regulations and that Maloney must have felt satisfied that he did not violate the judicial canon of ethics.

After debate about the statute and notice, Councilman Mark Jones suggested postponing action on Yevick’s appeal to the next meeting on Oct. 22 in order to allow the Building Department and Yevick to come to an understanding about what was expected. The council unanimously agreed.

In other business, the council:

-Suspended the rules to repeal section 16-9 of the city code, which prohibits air the sale of air rifles within the city limits after first reading.

-Authorized the mayor to enter into negotiations with Merchant Capital for financial services to fund the construction of the proposed public safety/municipal complex.

-Scheduled a called City Council meeting for Oct. 11 at 11:30 a.m. to canvass the votes and certify the runoff election for City Council Place 1, contingent upon no provisional ballots being cast. If provisional ballots are cast, the meeting will be scheduled for Oct. 16 at 11 a.m.

-Scheduled the City Council organizational meeting for Nov. 5 at 7:30 a.m. at the Jacksonville Train Depot.

-Considered action to reschedule the Nov. 12 work session and city council meeting to Nov. 5, at 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., respectively, at the Jacksonville Train Depot.

-Approved moving two Excise and Gasoline Tax bank accounts from Wells Fargo Bank to Regions Bank.

-Considered action to approve an amendment to public works project No. 154 to install a generator for hospital lift station due to additional cost involved in working with a high-pressure gas line.

-Approved public works project No. 155 to replace the flooring in the office and meeting rooms at the Jacksonville Community Center and authorized the mayor to enter into a contract with Abbey Carpet at 1008 U.S. Highway 431 North in Anniston for the project at a total cost of $20,894.

-Approved public works project No. 156 to screen the gym floor at the Jacksonville Community Center and authorized the mayor to enter into a contract for the project with Gym Service and Installation Company of Birmingham at a total cost of $3,770.

-Approved public works project No. 158 to replace a sewer main at Jacksonville Health and Rehabilitation and authorized the mayor to enter into a contract with Tren-Tay, Inc., for the project at a total cost of $38,220.

-Amended the April 23, 2012 City Council meeting minutes to correct the name on the application for a retail on/off premise table wine license and retail on/off premise malt/brewed beverage license by Momma Goldberg’s Deli. Company President Patrick Cash requested the name Foraker, LLC be changed to the legal name Foreacre, LLC.

-Acknowledged with regrets the retirement of Library Specialist Lucy Melinda Long, effective Nov. 1.

Staff Writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @Prentz_star.
© 2012