Monday, February 24, 2014

TOP STORY >> Apartments condemned

Leader staff writer

The city of Cabot has given the owner of Alpine Village Apartments seven days to evacuate the complex.

Mayor Bill Cypert said the order was issued Thursday under the Arkansas Fire Protection Code following an inspection by Fire Chief Phil Robinson, Police Chief Jackie Davis and a city code enforcement officer.

This is the second time in recent history that the city has ordered apartment residents to leave their homes for their own safety. In November 2012, the residents of the Linden Street Apartments were evicted after the complex was condemned for being unsafe and unsanitary.

Alpine Village — a six-building, 30-apartment complex — is located behind the community center on Lincoln Street. The rent there is said to be one of the lowest in the city.

Cypert said his office had received several complaints about conditions there before he ordered the inspections.

“It was deplorable beyond belief,” Cypert said.

Robinson said there have been two fires at the complex in recent years. The last one was in October. It was caused by a window air conditioner. But there was evidence throughout the complex that the wiring was overheating.

Brian Boroughs, head of Cabot Public Works, said other problems included exposed wiring, improperly wired water heaters, combustibles stored too close to space heaters, roofs leaking into light fixtures, sewer gas inside the apartments, missing or inadequate heat and inoperable plumbing.

“The bottom line is the conditions are extreme – very dangerous,” Boroughs said.

The city council condemned the Linden Street Apartments in the fall of 2012. Those apartments have since been sold but not yet made inhabitable.

The Alpine Village Apartments have not been condemned, but owner Gary Kissenger of Little Rock will have to bring them up to code before he can rent them again, Boroughs said.
Cypert said the city contacted attorneys with the Arkansas Municipal League before ordering the evacuation.

Robinson said about two-thirds of the apartments were occupied. And most of them had one or two occupants.

The mayor said he didn’t know where they would go, but they had to leave.

Robinson said, “It may seem harsh...But the reality is we’re getting them out of an unsafe environment.”

The mayor blames the conditions in part on the city’s lack of authority to inspect rental units.

An ordinance to give the city authority to conduct inspections is in the works and should be ready for the city council’s approval in a few months, he said.