City to cut, clean 15 properties

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 21, 2001

[8/21/01] Cutting and cleaning of 15 parcels in Vicksburg was approved Monday, including one vacant lot held by the owners of a long-vacant landmark.

Along with cleaning the empty lots of weeds and debris, elected officials also approved tearing down structures and clearing four other sites as part of a mandate by Mayor Laurence Leyens to rid the city of crumbling buildings.

“We’re serious about cleaning up the community,” Leyens, who is out of town, said in a telephone interview.

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A parcel at China and Cherry streets owned by Frank Imes was among those that the building inspector sought permission to have cleaned. Imes is also the owner of The Aeolian apartments at Cherry and Clay streets

“There are no sacred cows,” Leyens said. “I told (building inspector) Charles James to proceed on schedule.”

As in past administrations, a step-by-step process must be followed to identify non-complying property, locate and notify owners and provide them in time to respond.

After those attempts fail, inspectors take their files to the city board, which has the authority to cut and clean vacant lots or tear down structures and bill the owners through property taxes.

“We have exhausted all means of enforcement on these properties,” said Dalton McCarty with the city inspection department.

McCarty said a certified letter requesting that the vacant lot at 1212 Cherry St. be cleaned was received by Imes’ office Aug. 6. He said he has not gotten a response to the request.

Leyens said he has talked to Imes about the Aeolian, but not about the vacant lot. He said Imes assured him that work would begin on the 77-year-old building at Cherry and Clay within two weeks.

The building, which has been vacant since 1991, was under a city demolition order in 1999 but action was stopped when Imes, president of Renovations of Mississippi Inc., bought the building.

Since then, some work has been done on the building, including the installation of a chain-link fence and replacement of windows.

Built in 1924 and advertised as the city’s first fire-proof apartments, the building contributed to the placement of downtown Vicksburg on the National Register of Historic Districts.

Original plans were to convert the building into one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

In other matters the board:

Took public comment from two downtown property owners concerning the Main Street taxing district.

Received sealed bids for the cleanup of dump sites.

Authorized repairs at the city’s wate3r treatment plant.

Heard from a representative of the Harley Owners Group who will hold a convention at the Vicksburg Convention Center on Oct. 12 and Oct. 13. The group is requesting a waiver of the city open container ordinance at the convention center for that weekend. The board took no action on the request Monday, but promised to have an answer by Friday’s board meeting.

Approved a parade permit for a Veterans’ Day parade on Nov. 10.

Appointed Tom Pharr, owner of Anchuca Bed and Breakfast, to the Board of Architectural Review to replace Skippy J. Tuminello and David Clement, local architect, to replace Kaki Leyens who resigned after her husband was elected mayor.

Authorized a refund in the amount of $534.49 to Addie Clark for sewer charges. Clark was being charged by the city for sewer services, but her home was not connected.

The board will meet again at 10 a.m., Friday at City Hall Annex.