House condemnations hit snags
New Albany aldermen, at their regular meeting Tuesday, were scheduled to hear two proposals with quotes to demolish properties condemned at previous meetings but that did not happen.
Instead, in one case, aldermen took a step back for legal reasons. In the second, the owners who had purchased the property only days before its demolition was ordered, made a last, unsuccessful attempt to get permission to repair the structure.
In the first hearing, concerning the residence at 603 Highland, City Attorney Regan Russell halted proceedings before they had really started. He said that, due to an issue he was not free to discuss, he was recommending alderman pass a motion to set aside the finding at the previous month’s meeting and re-set the condemnation hearing for April.
When neighborhood residents pressed for a reason, aldermen allowed Russell to speak about the matter. He said the condemnation notice had been issued to Brad Chandler as owner but the city had recently found out his wife is also an owner. Russell said it would be necessary to make sure the proceedings are legal to hold a hearing only after both owners had been notified.
Mr. Chandler and some others present expressed confusion about the status of the house and the delay. Russell explained that the code enforcement officer has authority to condemn a structure, posting a yellow condemnation notice on the door, but that the condemnation is pending approval from the city board after a public hearing. Once the notice has been posted, the owner can do nothing to the structure unless he or she brings an appropriate bid to the building inspector and receives board authorization. This is true from the time the yellow notice has been posted and lasts until the aldermen’s hearing.
The second hearing was for the duplex at 507 and 509 Hobson Street, which had been condemned in the January board meeting and its demolition ordered at the February meeting. Aldermen agreed to let the owners tear the structure down.
Tuesday, however, the new owners were represented by counsel who said they had checked with a city-approved contractor who said the duplex could be brought up to code for $20,000. He argued that the men had only owned the building four days before the demolition order and had not had time to get a bid together. He said the owners still wanted to repair the house to use as their primary residence and were prepared to start work on it the following day. “They want 30 days to get the ball rolling,” he said. “If there are no plans, nothing is done, tear it down immediately.”
Regardless of whether the new owners had been misled or were really willing to repair their purchase, Ward One Alderman Jeff Olson said he saw no reason to delay. He moved that the demolition proceed, Ward Three Alderman Kevin Dale White seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Code enforcement officer Baron Baker told aldermen that he had been working on a list of the next properties that needed cleanup, repair or condemnation. Baker said he had identified about 35 locations but selected nine that were most in need of action. He presented photos from each location documenting their condition to the city board.
Ward Two Alderman Johnny Anderson moved to set all nine for a first condemnation hearing at the April board meeting. Alderman White seconded and the measure passed unanimously.
The structures in question (some of which already bear the yellow condemnation notices) are:
1083 Bratton Road
318 Camp Street
209-215 Oak Street
901 South Hilldale
711 Highland Circle
414 Camp Street
401 South Central
201 Box Cove (off Cotton Patch Drive)
637 Ridgeland Circle
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