Aldermen consider next list of potential houses for condemnation, demolition

New Albany aldermen continue to move toward ridding the city of unsafe and nuisance structures in an effort that seems to have picked up steam in the past six months.

Several such structures have been condemned and demolished as a result.

Code enforcement officer Baron Baker gave aldermen an update Tuesday on properties already in the condemnation legal process, and then provided a new list of structures that will be proposed for condemnation and demolition.

“The house at 318 Camp was demolished and cleaned up yesterday,” he said. “Also, the duplexes at 209-15 Oak were demolished May 10 and they have been cleaned up.”

The owner of the house at 201 Box Cove, Roger Irwin, had been given an extension because he was able to show he was working to improve the structure. “He has been working on it, but he was hospitalized, and his son graduated in Massachusetts,” Baker said, delaying further work some. “But he has been working on it pretty steady, and ask for an (additional) extension,” he said. The son will be attending Ole Miss and the family plans to move into the house permanently. “I said no problem since since all the stuff is here (materials for remodeling). I gave him until August.”

A hearing had been scheduled concerning the structure at 401 S. Central, which is actually off the street and facing Oak. “But that has already been demolished and cleaned up Friday, so no action is needed,” Baker said.

The next property scheduled for a hearing Tuesday was 901 S. Hilldale. Baker said the house is involved in an estate and that Harry Vinson and his sister, Rita, appear to be the only heirs. He said the house has been unoccupied for several years, has been burned and essentially abandoned.

Baker asked the city board to declare the property unfit for human occupancy, a public health menace and met the other legal definitions needed for condemnation.

Harry Vinson was present and had some questions and comments about the various people notified about the impending hearing and did not contest the condition of the property. He did have some questions about the cost of demolition and said the status of the estate may be cleared up soon, after which he would be better equipped to comment more. Vinson said at that point he might be willing to sign a quit-claim deed to the property to give it to the city so the city could demolish the house and clean the property.

Attorney Russell said the request Tuesday was only to condemn the house the give 30 days to demolish. “The city won’t address payment today,” he clarified.

Aldermen unanimously voted to condemn the property and give the owner 30 days to demolish it, with the matter to come back up at the July meeting if necessary.

Also set for a hearing Tuesday was the structure at 1083 Bratton Road. Baker said it is unclear who owns the property since non of his mailed letters have been accepted. The structure is rotting, not maintained and apparently abandoned, he said. Baker made the same condemnation request as for the other properties and, partly since no one was present on behalf of the property, aldermen unanimously voted to condemn it and order demolition within 30 days.

The last house set for a hearing Tuesday was at 637 Ridgeland Circle. Baker said the property is owned by Bradley and Carla Evans, along with two lien holders. He said the house has been occupied for some time, burned out for a few years and abandoned. He said he had tried to bring the property up before aldermen in the past but that earlier legal notices had been returned to him.

Baker once again made the legal condemnation request and aldermen unanimously voted to condemn the house and order it demolished within 30 days.

After the public hearings were concluded, Baker presented five more addresses of property that he believes needs condemnation next. They are 603 First Street, 621 Third Street, 426 North Street, 500 North Street and 515 Clark Street.

Baker asked for and was given authority to set public hearings on possible condemnation for these structures at the Aug. 5 city board meeting. He added that having two months instead of one simply worked better in terms of meeting the legal requirements.

A public hearing was held concerning a request by Robert Vail to rezone the property on the west side of Ray Street where it joins Hwy. 30 West from A-1 agricultural to R-2 residential. No one was present to object and building inspector and zoning administrator Mike Armstrong said he had received no objections earlier so aldermen unanimously approved the change.