Friday, November 16, 2012

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville to tear down homes

Leader staff writer

Eight structures were on Jacksonville’s condemnation list and after a 20-minute debate Thursday, the aldermen decided to remove one property, giving the owner until mid-March 2013 to get the home up to code.

Only two owners attended the council meeting and public hearing to plead their cases.

Tim Curtis asked the council to give him 30 days to completely remove the unsafe and unsanitary mobile home that was on his property at 1404 Stamps. Curtis didn’t want to lose the land.

City Attorney Robert Bamburg told the council that the ordinance condemning the properties gave owners 30 days to come into compliance or remove the structures so the trailer didn’t have to be removed from the list.

The other owner who argued for a break on his house at 119 Roosevelt Road was Duane Hall. He had received a building permit from the city to rehab the house and had spent the last two weeks working on it. Aldermen Bill Howard was unmoved, stating the house had been vacant for four to five years and in horrible disrepair. “I don’t think it’s worth fixing,” Howard said.

But Hall insisted he was making progress and planned to get it up to code and sell it.

Most council members agreed with Howard that the home wasn’t worth saving, but felt they had to give Hall time because the city had given him a permit already.

Director of Administration Jim Durham promised the council that Hall getting a permit was a fluke that would be taken care of. “We’ll put into place a system that both the city engineer and code enforcement need to check off any rehab or remodeling permit to make sure we don’t have any action against the property,” Durham said.

The council voted 9-1 to condemn residential structures at 114 Roosevelt Circle, 606 Marion, 170 Pike Avenue, 1018 Ray Road, 1404 Stamps Road, 300 N. Elm Road and the commercial property at 111 N. James St.

That property is the old Church’s Chicken next to the new McDonald’s.

Code-enforcement officer Charlie Jenkins investigated the condition of the defunct chicken restaurant, found black rust, broken pipes and beams and mummified chicken parts on the rooftop.

Related to the condemnations, the council approved placing a total of $48,395 worth of liens on 69 properties for work the city has done to curb the unsafe conditions. Mostly the fees are for mowing grass or tearing down structures. The liens run from $5,863 to $154.

In other business:

n In his monthly report to the council, Police Chief Gary Sipes said his department responded to 3,981 calls during October and made 377 arrests.

The city’s second homicide of the year was recorded in October. Sipes said a 7-month- old infant who was shaken and had stopped breathing was taken to North Metro Medical Center on Oct. 31 and died from injuries last week.

Because of reporting requirements, the death is logged in the month that the initial injury occurred.

Sipes also said the city had two sexual assaults, 14 felony assaults, 17 burglaries, 88 thefts, seven motor vehicle thefts and no burglaries in October.

 The police chief, in his code enforcement report, stated officers were assigned 71 calls and self initiated another 485 calls or investigations during October. Officers wrote 87 warning letters or notices, removed 165 signs (mostly political), inspected 13 structures and mowed 28 private lots.

During the month, owners tore down four structures after being cited by code enforcement and three were demolished by the city.

 Fire Chief John Vanderhoof, in his monthly report to the council, said his department responded to 245 rescue calls, 59 still alarms, 29 general alarms and had 266 ambulance runs during October.

Among the fires the department responded to were an electrical blaze in the 2000 block of Harold Drive, causing $25,000 damage, and a fire in the 1100 block of Liberty Avenue, causing $35,000. The cause for the fire is still undetermined. Overall fire loss for the month was placed at $60,000 and fire savings was estimated to be $170,000.

 In the monthly animal shelter report, Public Works Director Jim Oakley said the shelter received 115 dogs and 67 cats during October. Shelter officers were able to return 42 dogs and four cats to owners and adopt out 26 dogs and six cats. Officers had to euthanize 29 dogs and 54 cats.

Two bite cases or attacks were reported in October. Two Schipperkes, a pug mix and a sheltie mix attacked Police Officer Michael Holland as he knelt down to check on the dog’s owner, Sandy Gray, who had passed out in her home.

One dog bit him on the hand but since he was busy checking on Gray he wasn’t sure which one it was. All four dogs were placed in quarantine for 10 days.

The other bite was the same day and involved he same group of protective dogs. Animal Control Officer Jared Green responded to 1630 Pinion to pick up the four dogs. When he was unloading them at the animal shelter the sheltie mix tried to escape. When Green pushed the dog back in the truck, it bit him on the wrist.

 City Engineer Jay Whisker, in his monthly report, said his department issued 17 building permits and nine business licenses during October. His department also performed 228 inspections during the month.

 The mayor officially proclaimed November as “Water’s Worth It” month at the request of the water department and the waste water utility “to help increase the community awareness of Jacksonville’s most precious natural resource.”