LaFayette’s mayor and city council took action on a number of dilapidated properties at Monday night’s regular council meeting. Twelve structures were declared dilapidated by the council, and the city will now begin the steps to remove them. All this took place sixty days after the city declared these properties dilapidated in accordance with a new ordinance and gave owners two months to make improvements.
Before those actions were taken, a public hearing was held prior to the council meeting allowing owners to discuss their dilapidated properties. Four citizens were present at the meeting to talk with the council.
Jimmy Copeland, who owns property at 410 First Ave., asked the council for an extension citing poor weather, a death in the family and problems with laborers. Copeland said he had originally planned to renovate the home, but determined that termites, asbestos and foundation problems have made it impossible. He said he was in the process of tearing it down and had already removed two rooms. City Attorney Mac Tucker asked Copeland when he intended to finish the demolition and he said by the end of September. Streets and Sanitation Superintendent George Green noted that Copeland had been doing a good job of getting the house down. The council then agreed to grant an extension to Copeland and tabled declaring his property dilapidated.
Property owners Fay and Walter Brock, who have two houses on one lot as well as storage buildings, did not dispute that their properties were dilapidated, but said that the city was responsible for their current state of disrepair. One house, a smaller one, is one the corner of 7th Street SE and 3rd Avenue, while the other faces 7th Street. Mr. Brock stated that they weren’t given due process several years ago and the city took an easement to install a sewer line. Mrs. Brock said the city took 25 feet on one side of the property without notification and that the removal of a sidewalk and filling in of a drainage ditch contributed to water damage that has caused the housed to fall into its current state. “If I wanted to build or move that property back, there’s nothing I can do about it because you have a sewer line going directly across property that’s 15 feet wide,” George Brock said. “Then you took our frontage. Even if I wanted to build the house back, I can’t because it wouldn’t be code. I would have to move it back. You guys just took it.”
Tucker said he was aware of the dispute the Brock’s had, but asked if they could give a reason why the structures were not dilapidated. He also asked if they had any intention to tear the homes down. Mrs. Brock said she had no plans of fixing the property.
After being sworn in by Mayor Barry Moody, Green said the smaller house was a danger, citing broken windows, lack of power and a roof that had fallen in. Green said the larger house on the property was boarded up, so he could not inspect the interior but that it was clear that there are foundation problems and no attempt has been made to make repairs.
During Green’s statements, the Brocks left the public hearing and had no further comments. Tucker would go on to recommend that the structures be declared a nuisance, and addressed their complaint with the city. He said that the Brock’s had filed a claim with the city several years back and it was denied. He further stated that when the claim was filed a signed easement was presented by the city, disputing the Brock’s claims. Councilman David Ennis also noted that they never disputed that the structures were dilapidated. The council would later declare the property dilapidated.
The last individual to address the council was Young Barnes, speaking on behalf of Lowell and Nancy Pittman, property owners of 218 6th Ave South. Barnes, who has power of attorney for the Pittman’s, said that there was no intention to repair the structure on the property and that he had been working to try to get the fire department to burn the house down. Green said that the only problem is the house may be to close to others to burn. Interim Fire Chief Heath Cotney was instructed to inspect the property to determine if burning is feasible. The council, with the approval of Barnes, then decided to declare it a dilapidated structure in order to get the home removed in case burning is out of the question.
The public hearing was then adjourned.
At the end of the regular council meeting, action was officially taken on the properties. In total there were 26 properties cited as dilapidated. Tucker went through each one with the council and of those twelve were declared dilapidated. Action on thirteen properties was tabled, mostly because Green noted that attempts were being made to make repairs or demolition. One property was tabled because there was no structure present. The council also approved a motion to review the properties that were tabled for the first meeting of October.
In the regular council session, action was taken to purchase a new ambulance. Cotney said that two bids were received from Peach State Ambulance and Affordable Ambulance, with Peach State submitting the lowest bid by $8,000. The council authorized the purchase from Peach State for a Chevy Duramax 3,500 ambulance at a cost of $134,980. The council also authorized City Clerk Louis Davidson to seek financing for the purchase. Councilman Ennis also asked that the purchase be included in the next fiscal year’s budget, which begins October 1.