Council updates ordinance on dilapidated buildings

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, November 13, 2018

WEST POINT – Buildings with fire hazards, structural defects and in general disrepair will soon be on a list of properties the city of West Point will be looking for in an attempted to make the city more attractive.

The West Point City Council updated its ordinance concerning unfit structures Monday night, which falls in line to what the rest of the state is doing with such properties.

City Attorney Jeff Todd said the city uses this process to encourage residents to fix up or tear down unattractive buildings or structures in disrepair based on state law. The last change to West Point’s ordinance was in 2010.

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“It is a good practice every now and then to update your ordinance to make sure you comply with any tweaks the state has made,” Todd said.

In this most recent ordinance, the city recognizes such properties as structures that are unfit for humans to live or for commercial use based on fire or city codes. The building could be a violation if it presents a health hazard or is a danger to the public, and it is necessary to repair or demolish the structure.

The building could also be determined unfit if there are multiple fire hazards, lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, general dilapidation and disrepair, structural defects and general uncleanliness.

According to the city’s ordinance, it’s the owner of the building who has the responsibility to keep the property up to code. If they don’t, the mayor has appointed the public works director or whomever they designate to give out a citation to the owner. An inspection of the property can also be initiated if five or more residents complain about a property.

When a citation is handed out, it triggers an investigation and a hearing within at least 45 days of the filing. The hearing will determine if the structure can be repaired by the owner. If the owner can’t or won’t fix the property, and fails to demolish the structure, the city can act on its own.    

If the city has to demolish the property as a result of the owner failing to comply with city law, there would be a lien placed on the property for the cost of the work.

Also, at the meeting Monday, the council passed two resolutions regarding fees collected for 911 calls. The state allows counties and cities that operate a 911 line to impose a charge on prepaid wireless lines and those with a contract through a service provider.

That fee is a $1.50 for both prepaid phone and those with a contract. The funds are deposited into the state’s Emergency Telephone System Fund.

One final piece of business by the council was to appoint Trudye Johnson, Andy Andrews and Karen Cagle to serve a two-year term on the personnel review board. The appointment was unanimously approved.

The council is set to meet again for a work session at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 27.