City pursues several properties under dangerous buildings ordinances

By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 3/16/17

CORDOVA — The Cordova City Council approved a resolution Tuesday acknowledging the first demolition to be completed under a new dangerous buildings ordinance.

The city spent $8,824 in November to tear down a two-story structure at 86 Brewer …

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City pursues several properties under dangerous buildings ordinances

Posted

CORDOVA — The Cordova City Council approved a resolution Tuesday acknowledging the first demolition to be completed under a new dangerous buildings ordinance.

The city spent $8,824 in November to tear down a two-story structure at 86 Brewer Street, according to an expense report presented to council members.

The demolition was completed by public works employees. Labor and equipment accounted for the bulk of the expenses.

The council voted in May to raze the abandoned home, which had fallen into such a state of disrepair that it had “a dollhouse effect,” according to city attorney Ben Goldman.

“The front of it had opened up so that you saw all the furniture and the clothes still hanging in the closets. It was a very dangerous situation. It was open, so children could have gone in there. Vermin were free to go in and out. Parts of the building were ready to collapse. Several families lived on either side of this structure,” Goldman said.

Following the demolition, the city applied through the Walker County Probate Judge’s Office and Walker County Revenue Commissioner’s Office to have a lien placed on the property.

“We don’t necessarily anticipate recouping the full cost of this demolition, but the council has made cleaning up properties like this a priority, and there is no doubt that it is a safer area now,” Mayor Drew Gilbert said after the meeting.

The current dangerous buildings ordinance, which was approved by the council in January 2016, replaced an older ordinance that Gilbert said was difficult to enforce.

At least three other properties have been identified as being in violation of the ordinance, and Goldman has begun the process of notifying the respective property owners.

One of the properties is a burned-out home on Mound Avenue that has been brought to the council’s attention several times in previous meetings by District 7 council member Lauren Vance.

Vance said the property poses a threat to several children that live on Mound Avenue. The roof recently separated from the rest of the structure, and the pool in the backyard is open and filled with water.

“Any child, person or animal could get in there, and they have a problem with mosquitoes. It is a big concern for people in that area,” she said.

Goldman informed the council that in addition to having the property declared to be a nuisance, he will also be asking the court for the insurance proceeds that the property owners reportedly received after the fire.

He is also searching for the correct address of a property on First Street that is in violation of the ordinance.

“This is one we have been discussing for years as part of a larger conversation about cleaning up our gateway to downtown,” Gilbert said.

The owners of a third property met with Goldman and city officials after the meeting adjourned to discuss possible solutions.

Also on Tuesday, Gilbert informed council members that a budget amendment will be necessary in April, the halfway point of the fiscal year, due to declining revenue.

Revenue for January was $226,341, or approximately $35,000 below projections, according to Gilbert’s monthly budget report.

Through the first four months of the fiscal year, revenue was $493,674, or $47,065 below projections.

Gilbert also reported that expenses are trending $32,467 above projections.

“I think that six-month amendment is going to anticipate a lower revenue number for the year, which in turn is going to make us dial back a certain percentage point on our expenses in every department for the remainder of the year as well,” Gilbert said.

Salaries within the police department, which are $9,000 above projections through the first quarter, contributed to the increase in expenses.

Fuel consumption was up through the quarter as well, and the city had several large expenses related to sewer repairs and a pump replacement. “The expenses are all things that are relatively easy to explain, and I think we can do a pretty good job catching up. The revenue is the one I’m less optimistic about,” Gilbert said.