After being declared a public health menace, the city plans to clean up the Jake’s Recycling Center lot and assess the cost to the property taxes.
The long-abandoned business with a large pile of refuse on East Roane Avenue was the subject of a June 3 public hearing conducted by the Eupora Board of Aldermen. The purpose was to receive a report from owner Jake Rich of Louisville of progress on cleaning up his property.
Rich nor any representative attended and board attorney Jacqueline Meek said no one called her either after Jake’s Recycling was properly notified to appear. No other comments, complaints or opposition were made before the hearing was closed.
Results of the hearing came during the board’s monthly meeting that followed. Aldermen found and adjudicated that the property is, in its current condition, a menace to the public health, safety and welfare of the community. The motion was approved 3-0; Howard Rumore (Ward 2) and Robert Gibbs (Ward 4) were absent.
Meek will send Rich a letter informing him that, if he does not clean the property or make satisfactory assurances to the city of his arrangements to do so by June 21, the city will proceed to clean it and assess the amount to the property taxes.
The board took the same action following a blight hearing last month on an abandoned house at 1249 Adams Ave. Meek told the board June 3 the city could start tearing the house down because that day’s cleanup deadline had not been met.
In a related matter, the board adopted a litter control ordinance for the city that was prepared by Rumore. The ordinance will be adopted in its final form following newspaper publication and a public hearing.
The ordinance prohibits littering in any manner or amount in the city, including materials spilled from vehicles and unauthorized dumps. Any driver who spills materials or objects from their vehicle must clean the spill up at their own expense or be cited and fined.
It requires storage of garbage in enclosed containers and regulates disposal of garbage or compostable trash resulting from construction. It will also be unlawful for anyone to deposit or cause to be thrown litter or compostable trash (such as grass clippings) onto streets and in ditches, creeks, gutters or drains.
Jerry Gary (at-large), who presented the six-page ordinance in Rumore’s absence, said the city will need the public’s help in enforcing it by reporting littering to the Police Department or city code enforcement officer. Any citizen may also file an affidavit in Municipal Court against a violator. Corrective written notices will be issued to violators in lieu of citation, which can result in a minimum fine of $200.
About 20 townspeople attended the regular meeting to discuss improvements and cleanup of the city. A number of residents also attended the two previous board meetings on the same topic.
Teresa Ozborn, who was among those at the June 3 meeting, wrote in a request form to be placed on the agenda that the topic would involve “improvements and cleanup of our town to attract new businesses, industry and people wanting to move to a small community. Discuss interest of forming a committee to work with mayor and aldermen to visit other towns (such as Water Valley) to receive input on how they improved their town. Discuss all prior concerns from last two meetings related to town improvements.”
Meek gave an update on letters she has mailed to those identified as blight ordinance violators since the last meeting, any progress made toward cleanup and responses received. None of those who were sent letters were at the hearing or meeting.
Meek said the first letters are courtesy letters informing recipients that aldermen have found that their properties need to be cleaned up or repaired. The letters ask the property owners to let the board know by its next meeting what they are going to do. The next step is public hearings as necessary based upon any progress made.
Those present also gave details of other blighted properties. Locations mentioned included the old Sonic on East Roane where grass is grown up and the lot on the east side of it, three vacant houses on the northeast side of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, and properties on South Dunn and Adams Avenue.
Referring to the condition of many houses and yards on Adams Avenue, Mary Jane Gibson said, “It is pitiful.
Ozborn also mentioned the “junkyard” on MLK, referring to the Shaw’s Towing salvage yard. Ward 1 Aldermen Junior Shaw said all of the old vehicles there will either be crushed or hauled away.
When Bruce Walters said he had counted at least 26 abandoned cars in town, Police Chief Gregg Hunter said the Police Department could notify the owners to get rid of them.
Walters, who thanked the board and city for working with them, said, “We just want to see some improvements.”
Some present talked about starting a new Beautification Committee, which has been inactive for years. Sandra Dewberry asked Mayor Lamar Dumas to write a newspaper column about the venture to clean up the city and the importance of keeping properties clean. He agreed to do so and said the city needs to look the best it can.
Based upon the discussion, Meek said she planned to send out 15 blight notification letters. The board set another blight hearing for 5:45 p.m. July 1 concerning at least three properties. The board, by vote, also directed Meek to send a letter to an East Roane Avenue resident asking him to relocate an 18-wheeler to commercial property.
In other business June 3, the Board of Aldermen approved motions to:
• rezone a property that once housed the old Western Auto building on the low side of main street (North Dunn) from C-1, which is Central Commercial District property, to R-1, Low-Density Residential District for single-family residences only.
This was done at the request of owner Mike McCully, who first informed the board in April that he planned to renovate the building into an apartment. The board voted in May to begin the rezoning process and a public hearing was conducted May 23. No comments, complaints or opposition were made, according to minutes of the hearing.
• accept a $7,765 quote from Temple Display to purchase 16 additional pole-mounted Christmas decorations and accept collected donations for them from Kay Embry. This was the lower of two quotes received.
Embry, who was present, has been collecting donations for the decorations with approval from the board. The city purchased 16 other LED “Heavenly Angel” decorations last year, and these will complete the set and replace the remainder of the old wreaths.
• approve a final resolution granting a 10-year industrial ad valorem tax exemption to Plymouth Tube for new personal property with a total true value of $2.01 million. This follows initial approval in May and certification by the Mississippi Department of Revenue that the company is eligible for the exemption, which expires Dec. 31, 2028..
• approve a resolution appointing Dumas as the voting delegate and Gary (who is vice mayor) as the alternate for the election at the Mississippi Municipal League’s annual conference, which will be June 24-26 in Biloxi.
• accept a quote from Donald Smith Co. to provide a stainless-steel submersible pump for Well No. 2 and pay the $18,884 cost out of water reserves. It was the lower of two quotes received, and includes removing the existing turbine pump and piping, and installing the new one. An additional cost of $7,902.99 for electrical work by Wayne Baker will be billed separately. The city purchased a submersible pump for Well No. 1 in 2017.