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Board makes quick work of agenda

A sick mayor contributed to a quick board of aldermen meetingTuesday. However, that did not result in a lack of production fromthe city’s councilmen.

As usual, the board approved a number of routine agenda itemsand addressed a few topics that came up for discussion. Ward OneAlderman Dorsey Cameron presided over the meeting in the absence ofMayor Les Bumgarner, who was ill, last night.

One topic of concern that surfaced at the meeting involved anamendment to a state legislative statue addressing the process oflot clearing.

The old statue only allowed the city to visit a property onetime during a one-year time period. However, the new statue allowsthe city to visit a lot several times in a year, as needed, fromthe time the board rules a property in question is in need ofaction.

“This way we can get a handle on everything,” said City AttorneyJoe Fernald. “The change was to allow cities to go back in to cleanit.”

Building Inspector Chip Gennaro said that the city still has afew of the 53 remaining properties to clean from last year and heexpects city officials to hand him another hefty list.

Gennaro also said the city does not step in until lots become”pretty bad.” He included overgrown grass and burned or buildingsthat are falling apart as examples of when a property owner wouldneed to clean up their lot.

He added that most buildings in town that need to be taken careof are due to the lack of knowledge on the owners’ behalves.

“A lot of these people are from out of town,” said Gennaro.”They don’t know it’s in the shape it’s in.”

One of the hardest parts of cleaning the rundown lots is thelengthy process involved in notifying the owners.

“You don’t just drive up to somebody’s house and tear it down,”joked Gennaro.

In addition to incorporating the job into an already busyschedule, Gennaro said he has to discover who is responsible forthe property and then has to notify them to take care of the lotbefore the street department may ultimately be asked to stepin.

Once Gennaro is able to track down the property owner, a letteris issued stating what steps need to be taken to bring the lot upto proper standards. Those in violation can appeal the notice orask for more time to straighten up their property.

If the issues are not resolved, an amount averaging from $150 to$450 can be charged for the city’s efforts in cleaning the lot. Ifthat bill goes unpaid, a lien may be placed against theproperty.

“We try to make the price a little lower so we can get somethingback,” said Gennaro. “We have a better chance of getting $400 backthan $4,000 back.”

In other business Tuesday, the board held an executive sessionfor personnel matters and for pending litigation. After returningfrom the closed meeting, the board took no action on the legalissue and then voted to terminate two Solid Waste Departmentemployees over violations of city personnel policies.