City board votes to demolish dilapidated house

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday took care of two derelict property issues, granting one property owner a second 30-day extension to clear his property and ordering the demolition of a dilapidated house on another property.

The vote was 2-0 on both matters. Mayor George Flaggs Jr. was in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, for a meeting of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative.

The board’s action involved properties at 1617 Jackson St. and 1620 Jackson St. Community Development Director Victor Gray-Lewis said the owners of both pieces of property received 30-day extensions in February.

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He said, however, that recent inspections by city building inspectors revealed no progress had been made in cleaning the sites, which have overgrown grass and weeds and dilapidated buildings. He said the property at 1617 Jackson St. has cars on the property that do not work.

The city has the authority to under its ordinances and state law to go on private property and cut and clear it if the property is considered a threat to health and safety, and the property owner does not clean it.

If city employees, or a contractor hired by the city cleans the property, the property owner is billed for the work. In the past, the city has placed lien on the properties it cleans to recover its costs when the property is sold.

The city in the past has given property owners the opportunity to clean their property, granting extensions of up to 90 days if the property owner shows progress in clearing the land.

Only one of the property owners, Saul Fultz, who owns the property at 1617 Jackson, appeared before the board to press his case. Ethel Lee Bland, who is listed on the Warren County property tax rolls as owner of 1620 Jackson St., did not attend to press her case.

The board authorized Gray-Lewis to clear the property and demolish the building at 1620 Jackson St.

Fultz said he had had not any time since February to clean and clear the lot, adding he wants to renovate the house on the property, which was damaged when a tree fell on it during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

He sought a 60-day extension, but the board denied that request.

“We can’t give you that.” North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said. He said the neighbors in the area around Fultz’s property have filed complaints about the property.

“We’ve got to see some progress,” Mayfield said.

The board approved the 30-day extension with the provision that Fultz provide the board with a “plan of action” with deadlines showing when he would have the property clean.

On the agenda

Meeting Tuesday, the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen:

• Recognized the anniversaries of the following city employees: Eddie Henderson, gas, and Robert McAdam, traffic, 25 years; Michael Puckett, fire department, 20 years; Anthony Smith, sewer, and Jaclyn Noel, police department.

• Adopted the March 10 board minutes.

• Took under advisement bids from BancorpSouth and Trustmark Bank for keeping the city’s $3 million reserve fund.

• Approved a request for assistance from RiverFest organizers.

In a related matter, the board approved a request from BluzCruz for $500 in advertising and city assistance with its canoe and kayak races in April 12.

• Approved submission of an application for the 2014 Affordable Housing Program which is funded through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas.

• Adopted a resolution declaring the Glock .357-caliber Magnum handgun used by retired police officer Gary Cooper surplus and authorized its sale to Cooper for $1.

• Adopted a police department policy and procedures amendment allowing extra pay for supervisors and special duties. Police Chief Walter Armstrong said the pay increases involved supervisors such as field training officers and firearms instructors when they are performing those duties.

• Approved adding an unmarked car to the police department’s inventory. Armstrong said the car is replacing an older car that is being removed from service.

• Authorized Flaggs to sign a grant agreement with the Mississippi Department of Homeland Security for a new portable digital warning sign for the police department.

• Authorized Mayfield as mayor pro tem to sign a release involving a $167,500 settlement with Lexon Insurance Co.

• Authorized Mayfield to sign an agreement with the ID Group Inc. of Ridgeland to make ID badges for city workers.

• Approved applying for state multi-modal funds for work on the fuel farm apron and tie-downs at the Vicksburg Municipal Airport.

• Authorized the following payments: $9,847.50 to HD Supply Co. of Jackson for water meters, and Marieco of Leeds, Ala., for electronic correctors for the water meters.

• Approved bank statements from BancorpSouth and Trustmark Bank.

• Approved the following reports, city sexton, privilege license, mayor and treasurer, monthly tax collection, delinquent tax collection and detailed budget.

• Approved the claims docket.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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