The Aug. 5 meeting of the Eupora Board of Aldermen again included the topic of blighted properties in the city.
Another large group of concerned citizens packed the boardroom for a blight update and related discussion as they have in past months. City attorney Jacqueline Meek reported she had sent courtesy letters to 10 property owners letting them know that their property needs attention and requesting they attend the Aug. 5 meeting to let the board know what the plans are to clean up.
None of the property owners contacted were present. Meek said the only ones who had responded included a couple who said they would be cleaning up their property and the owner of property of 1358 Adams Ave., who said he had removed some things out of the yard there and completed some other cleanup. Meek also said she had provided information to the owner of a downtown building who had asked what needed to be done there.
A concerned citizen inquired about cleanup of the burned-out building at the southeast corner of North Dunn and Fox Avenue, which has not begun. During a public hearing on July 1, Meek said the property had been sold and therefore she would need time to properly notify the new owner and follow procedure.
Mayor Lamar Dumas said then that the new owner has plans to restore it and is going to get it cleaned up. The board agreed at that meeting to allow him 30 days to do substantial cleanup of the building. If not, Meek was to begin the blight letter process. Dumas said last week the new owner had just returned from a vacation and that he would talk to him about the situation.
Meek said some other property owners have been contacted who are supposed to be at the regular September meeting. She was also asked to send letters to others.
Junior Shaw (Ward 1) said some citizens had come to him stating they felt the board was picking on certain people, and who said the city should go to each address in Eupora to determine if it needs cleaning up.
"We had to start somewhere … with complaints," Dumas replied. Meek gave a similar response.
Bruce Walters, as he had at a previous meeting, said he had counted 26 abandoned cars in yards around town. Police Chief Gregg Hunter said he would address the problem if Walters would provide him a list of those locations.
The concerned citizens informed the board that three related volunteer committees have been formed with these chairs: Beautification, Teresa Ozborn; Blight, Walters; and Marketing, Melissa Vaughan.
Ashtyn Krusee, an employee of Belinda Stewart Architects and member of the Blight Committee, said she has done research on small-town blight. She offered to post property maintenance codes online and prepare a form for reporting blighted properties.
Additionally, the city board adopted a litter control ordinance last month that was published as a legal notice on page 19 in the July 10 issue of the Progress-Times.
The board handled another blight matter at a special-called meeting on July 29. After discussion, according to the meeting minutes, aldermen voted to approve Ken Knight to demolish an abandoned house at 1249 Adams Ave. in the amount of $3,500 per his quote to be taken out of the Special Economic Development Fund.
Following a public hearing on May 6, the board adjudicated that the property is, in its present condition, a menace to the public health, safety and welfare of the community.
Minutes state the board directed Meek to write to the former owner, with a copy to Regions Bank, mortgage holder on the subject property, that if the former owner did not clean the property by noon June 3 or make satisfactory assurances to the city of his arrangements to do so, that the city will proceed to clean the property and assess the amount to the taxes. Meek told the board June 3 the city could start tearing the house down because that day’s cleanup deadline had not been met.