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County Board addresses unsafe uctures issue

PULASKI COUNTY — Structures that are so dilapidated they pose a threat to public safety will no longer be allowed to slowly deteriorate under a new ordinance passed Monday night.
The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to accept a draft ordinance giving the county authority to see that unsafe structures are repaired, secured or removed. However, there was some question over the amount of time a citizen should be given to take action once they are notified of a safety hazard.
County Administrator Pete Huber said the ordinance came about as the result of structures that are being allowed to fall into disrepair to the point they are collapsing and posing a safety hazard.
“We have to decide at what point the county should decide whether to force the repair or removal of dilapidated structures,” he told the supervisors. In addition to the safety issue, he pointed out that structures that are being allowed to fall down also impact visitors’ perceptions of the county.
The ordinance proposed Monday was based on a Giles County ordinance, with some modifications made by Pulaski County’s county attorney Tom McCarthy Jr.
Huber said he thinks it is important that Pulaski County have some kind of standard for dealing with unsafe structures.
County building official Edith Hampton said the county needs some kind or ordinance because “we do have a lot of dilapidated buildings.”
She said she presently is dealing with complaints involving five to six “burned-out” structures that have not been removed. She added that a day doesn’t pass that she doesn’t deal with some complaint about a structure, but the county cannot force action without an ordinance.
“I leave sticker after sticker and get no response,” she said.
Having an ordinance apparently works pretty well, she said, adding, “If you look at downtown Pulaski, they’ve cleaned it up a lot.”
County resident H.W. Harless complained that the use of the word “secure” would allow a property owner to put a locked fence around a building and leave it to fall down.
However, McCarthy pointed out that the word “secure” comes from the state code. He suggested Harless address his concerns to the state legislature.
“We can only do that which we are allowed to do by the legislature,” the lawyer noted.
Zoning administrator Melody Taylor said the biggest problem she is encountering is with manufactured homes that have been abandoned. She said she has been trying, to no avail, to get a “burned out” mobile home on Route 100 removed for about 18 months. However, she said the home went through foreclosure, and the bank has “washed its hands” of the structure.
A Fairlawn man supported the ordinance. He said he lives across a street from a “trailer park” that contains empty trailers, trash, raw sewage pouring onto the ground, etc. “I don’t have any problem with a trailer park if they’re kept up,” he added.
A motion by Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp to accept the proposed ordinance was seconded by Ingles District Supervisor Ranny Akers.
Before a vote was taken, Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt questioned whether 30 days is sufficient time for a structure to be removed once cited. He said it may take 30 days to hire someone to do the work.
“I’m for an ordinance, but shouldn’t it be 60 days?” Pratt asked.
Huber pointed out that the property owner would have 30 days from the point the county sends written notification or publishes an ad requiring the property to be addressed. By that point, he indicated the county should have already contacted the property owner in person at least once.
Akers said he thinks 30 days is sufficient time because in many cases the structures have been falling down for years and the property owner has taken no action. Besides, he said, many are already falling down anyway, so it shouldn’t take long to complete the process of removal.
“They don’t fall down overnight,” he said. As long as an owner is making a good faith effort to take care of the situation, he suggested the county could extend the time frame if absolutely necessary.
Akers also disliked the word “secure, but I don’t think we can supersede the state code.”
Under the ordinance, the owner or owners of any building, wall or other structure deemed by the county building official or county administrator to be unsafe must repair, secure or remove the unsafe situation.
Notification will be made to the owner or owners through certified mail, with return receipt, to the “last known address maintained on the current tax records.” The county also must publish the notification at least once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper with general circulation in Pulaski County
Should the owner fail to comply, the county will be authorized (under the ordinance) to take action to render the property safe. The owner has 30 days from the latest notification to remedy the situation.
If the county has to address the issue, reimbursement of costs of notifications and taking necessary actions to remove the safety issue will be billed to the property owner or owners. The county treasurer will be authorized to collect any unpaid debts in the same manner as collecting real estate taxes.
Unpaid bills will result in a lien being placed on the property.

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County Board addresses unsafe uctures issue

PULASKI COUNTY — Structures that are so dilapidated they pose a threat to public safety will no longer be allowed to slowly deteriorate under a new ordinance passed Monday night.
The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to accept a draft ordinance giving the county authority to see that unsafe structures are repaired, secured or removed. However, there was some question over the amount of time a citizen should be given to take action once they are notified of a safety hazard.
County Administrator Pete Huber said the ordinance came about as the result of structures that are being allowed to fall into disrepair to the point they are collapsing and posing a safety hazard.
“We have to decide at what point the county should decide whether to force the repair or removal of dilapidated structures,” he told the supervisors. In addition to the safety issue, he pointed out that structures that are being allowed to fall down also impact visitors’ perceptions of the county.
The ordinance proposed Monday was based on a Giles County ordinance, with some modifications made by Pulaski County’s county attorney Tom McCarthy Jr.
Huber said he thinks it is important that Pulaski County have some kind of standard for dealing with unsafe structures.
County building official Edith Hampton said the county needs some kind or ordinance because “we do have a lot of dilapidated buildings.”
She said she presently is dealing with complaints involving five to six “burned-out” structures that have not been removed. She added that a day doesn’t pass that she doesn’t deal with some complaint about a structure, but the county cannot force action without an ordinance.
“I leave sticker after sticker and get no response,” she said.
Having an ordinance apparently works pretty well, she said, adding, “If you look at downtown Pulaski, they’ve cleaned it up a lot.”
County resident H.W. Harless complained that the use of the word “secure” would allow a property owner to put a locked fence around a building and leave it to fall down.
However, McCarthy pointed out that the word “secure” comes from the state code. He suggested Harless address his concerns to the state legislature.
“We can only do that which we are allowed to do by the legislature,” the lawyer noted.
Zoning administrator Melody Taylor said the biggest problem she is encountering is with manufactured homes that have been abandoned. She said she has been trying, to no avail, to get a “burned out” mobile home on Route 100 removed for about 18 months. However, she said the home went through foreclosure, and the bank has “washed its hands” of the structure.
A Fairlawn man supported the ordinance. He said he lives across a street from a “trailer park” that contains empty trailers, trash, raw sewage pouring onto the ground, etc. “I don’t have any problem with a trailer park if they’re kept up,” he added.
A motion by Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp to accept the proposed ordinance was seconded by Ingles District Supervisor Ranny Akers.
Before a vote was taken, Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt questioned whether 30 days is sufficient time for a structure to be removed once cited. He said it may take 30 days to hire someone to do the work.
“I’m for an ordinance, but shouldn’t it be 60 days?” Pratt asked.
Huber pointed out that the property owner would have 30 days from the point the county sends written notification or publishes an ad requiring the property to be addressed. By that point, he indicated the county should have already contacted the property owner in person at least once.
Akers said he thinks 30 days is sufficient time because in many cases the structures have been falling down for years and the property owner has taken no action. Besides, he said, many are already falling down anyway, so it shouldn’t take long to complete the process of removal.
“They don’t fall down overnight,” he said. As long as an owner is making a good faith effort to take care of the situation, he suggested the county could extend the time frame if absolutely necessary.
Akers also disliked the word “secure, but I don’t think we can supersede the state code.”
Under the ordinance, the owner or owners of any building, wall or other structure deemed by the county building official or county administrator to be unsafe must repair, secure or remove the unsafe situation.
Notification will be made to the owner or owners through certified mail, with return receipt, to the “last known address maintained on the current tax records.” The county also must publish the notification at least once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper with general circulation in Pulaski County
Should the owner fail to comply, the county will be authorized (under the ordinance) to take action to render the property safe. The owner has 30 days from the latest notification to remedy the situation.
If the county has to address the issue, reimbursement of costs of notifications and taking necessary actions to remove the safety issue will be billed to the property owner or owners. The county treasurer will be authorized to collect any unpaid debts in the same manner as collecting real estate taxes.
Unpaid bills will result in a lien being placed on the property.

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