Board sets another blight hearing

By Russell Hood
The Webster Progress-Times

Eupora leaders continue to deal with enforcement of the city’s blight ordinance —wanting to make sure the process is followed correctly.

On Oct. 3, the Board of Aldermen authorized City Attorney Jacqueline Meek to proceed with the conclusion of the blight ordinance for the demolition of vacant houses at 1485 Adams Ave. and 304 Noel St. This followed previous blight hearings for those identified as the respective property owners, Antoinette Goins of Calhoun City and George Marshall of Eupora.

The motion also included acceptance of a quote from Ken Knight for asbestos inspection and demolition of the houses to be determined by the city attorney.

On Sept 8, Meek asked for permission to start over with the blight process to be sure that all notices and public hearings have been done correctly and to be sure the property owners understand the process.

Howard Rumore (Ward 2) suggested the city start with one blighted property at a time to make sure everything is done legally and property. The board approved his motion to allow Meek to send a certified letter to Goins stating that her house on Adams Avenue will be torn down and the expenses assessed to her taxes.

Hearing Monday
The Goins house was again discussed Oct. 5 and during a special-called meeting Oct. 8. Meek reported that the property has gone through the delinquent tax sale and has a new owner, subject to redemption.
If the house is torn down and the cost assessed to the new property owner in addition to the taxes owed next year, Meek said she doubted anyone would accept the deed because the county taxes would be so high.

If no one buys it in the next tax sale, she said that, in the normal process, the property will go to the state. If that happens, the secretary of state’s office could then deed it to the city upon application.

Charles Morton, an auxiliary police officer who lives next to the Adams Avenue house, was present during the discussion at both October meetings. Calling the house an eyesore, he asked why the blight ordinance wasn’t being enforced and why the city couldn’t go ahead and tear the house down. Meek said the city has to follow the process correctly.

Upon a motion by Rumore and second by Junior Shaw (Ward 1) on Oct. 8, the board voted 3-0 to authorize Meek to send a final notice to all involved parties regarding the Goins house to appear before the board at a blight hearing next Monday. Robert Gibbs (Ward 4) was the only other alderman present. Then, upon a motion by Rumore and second by Gibbs, the board set the blight hearing for 5:50 p.m. Monday — 10 minutes before its next regular meeting.

South Dunn house
Additionally, Joyce and Marvin Hendrix agreed in July to submit a progress report by the next regular meeting for tearing down a vacant house they own at 208 S. Dunn that the board also wants to condemn.

On Aug. 3, Mayor Dan Burchfield said the Hendrixes could not attend that meeting because of a family emergency and the item was tabled until the next regular meeting on Sept. 8.

They were not present then or Oct. 5, when Gibbs asked the mayor to contact Joyce Hendrix “and tell her we need something immediately.” Hugh Gibson (Ward 3) said he agreed with Gibbs.

Burchfield told aldermen Oct. 8 he had called Hendrix, and that she is supposed to have photos of work done so far and a cleanup plan at Monday’s meeting.