A proposed resolution to condemn 12 properties in the city was tabled during an El Dorado City Council meeting Thursday after a city alderman inquired about the occupancy status of the properties.
“I see the reason for this, (Mayor Frank Hash), but are we sure no one lives in these properties?” Alderman Willie McGhee asked.
Hash suggested that the resolution be tabled, noting that city Code Enforcement Officer Kirby Craig was not present.
“We can wait until he’s here so he can walk us through each and every one of these,” Hash said.
McGhee later explained that he raised the question because he wanted to avoid an issue that arose last year when the council condemned a house on the 1100 block of Ouachita Avenue while a family was still living in the house.
He also said the city has received complaints and faced legal action for condemning properties that owners planned to repair and bring up to code.
“I don’t want us to condemn a property if people are trying to upgrade it or if people are living in it. There have been a couple of people that had some materials in the houses where they were trying to bring them up to code and we tore them down,” McGhee said.
He called on the city to slow down its condemnation process to determine if a property can be rehabilitated or until plans are made for the upkeep of a vacant lot once a structure has been condemned and razed.
During the council’s regular meeting on Feb. 9, McGhee suggested that city officials form a committee, possibly made up of citizens, to take a look at properties that are up for condemnation and determine if the properties need to be razed or if they could be rehabbed and sold.
At the time, the council voted to take $360,000 from the city’s reserve coffers to advance the process of razing condemned structures.
Craig previously said that he had put the condemnation process on hold due to a backlog of condemned structures that had not been demolished, to clean up blight and eliminate crime, including dog fighting, that has been reported in vacant houses.
The $360,000 will be used to hire a contractor to complement in-house work performed by city crews and to pay overtime for the El Dorado Fire Department to burn structures that can be used for live-fire training.
“I haven’t gotten any feedback on the proposal to form a committee yet because I’m trying to come up with a plan,” McGhee said, adding that he intends to work with Alderman Kensel Spivey on the matter.
McGhee and Spivey represent Ward 3.
The properties that appeared in the proposed resolution include:
• 1223 Blackard; Ruth Williams; unsanitary and unsafe.
• 418 W. Block; Jackie Toney; obnoxious and unsafe.
• 710 Ouachita; Nile and Marzell Smith; obnoxious and unsafe.
• 826 W. Second; Sherri Sweeney; dilapidated, obnoxious and unsanitary.
• 1703 Detroit; Sean Groves; dilapidated, obnoxious and unsafe.
• 1000 E. Oak; Erice Lewis; New York, New York; dilapidated obnoxious and unsafe.
• 1208 Buchanan; Charles Jones; dilapidated, obnoxious, unsafe and unsanitary.
• 550 Cooper Drive; Kenneth and Bridgette Allen; dilapidated, obnoxious and unsafe.
• 3108 E. Main; Leonard Baugus; dilapidated and obnoxious.
• 1326 E. Burns; Janice Champion; unsafe and obnoxious.
• 1210 N. Miles; Debra Critton; dilapidated, obnoxious and unsafe.
• 403 Martin Luther King; Claudia Stevenson; dilapidated, obnoxious and unsafe.
In other business, the council adopted an ordinance to waive competitive bidding for the EFD to replace three cardiac monitors.
The ordinance would allow the fire department to accept a $110,000 contract with Zoll Medical Corporation to purchase the monitors.
Aldermen suspended the rules to read the ordinance three times and pass it Thursday. They included an emergency clause so the ordinance could go into effect immediately.
Mosby said he plans to call Zoll today.
Mosby previously told alderman that Zoll presented the lower of two quotes that were submitted for the monitors and that a third company had gone out of business.
He also said the EFD has previously done business with Zoll.
Hash said he will present a report for the city’s dog control services during the next regular council meeting on March 8.
The city contracts with Union County Animal Control Officer Charles Hartsell for the service,
McGhee had requested a report and the item appeared on the council’s agenda Thursday.
Hash apologized, saying, “I have not had time to get it all pulled together. I will have it at the next meeting.”
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.