Valley City Council authorizes action on two nuisance properties

Published 9:09 am Thursday, April 14, 2022

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VALLEY — The Valley City Council on Monday declared public nuisances and authorized action to clean up two properties in the city, one located on Lower Street in River View and another one on 29th Boulevard in Shawmut.

Taking action on the River View house was fairly cut and dry, but the Shawmut residence was more complicated. Both the house and yard on Lower Street are in bad shape, and no one is living there. Code Enforcement Officer Reid Riley showed council members photos of the house and yard on the wall TVs inside the council chamber. He recommended that the council approve demolishing the house and cleaning up the lot.

The Shawmut house also presents more of a complicated case because the structure is sound and people are living in the house. Riley displayed photos of the yard being in deplorable shape with all kinds of debris and animal waste scattered over it.

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The owner of the house is trying to sell it to another party who is responsible for the people who are living there. That’s where the problem is.

According to Riley, there are transients coming in and out of the dwelling, and some people are sleeping on couches on the front and back porches. Others are said to be sleeping on the floor wherever they can find space inside.

“The Chambers County Drug Task Force and Valley Police Department have gone there a lot,” Reid Riley said. “It’s a public nuisance.”

The location of the house is zoned R-2, which is single-family residential.

“There are multiple people moving in and out,” Riley said. “People are sleeping on the porches on couches and on indoor furniture.”

Riley said the owner wants anyone living there out but is waiting on a check from a bank before it’s vacated. He bought the house at a tax sale and is trying to sell it to someone else.

City Attorney John Ben Jones said the city could sue the owner to force action. Mayor Leonard Riley said he thought the present owner should clean up the animal waste before the city takes action to clean up the site.

Council Member Jim Jones said he didn’t think it a good precedent for the city to tear down a house that is still in good structural condition.

“We need to get them legally out of the house,” he said.

“We would have to go to court to do that,” City Attorney Jones said.

The city does not have to go to court if the council acts on its existing dilapidated structure ordinance.

Council Member Jim Clark, who represents the Shawmut mill village area on the council, said the present owner had told him more than a year ago that he wanted people in the house to leave. He also said he had gotten complaints from his constituents about dogs running loose in the neighborhood and suspected that might be happening because of the people living in the house.

Reid Riley said it was his understanding that the city had two options: (1) they could move everyone out of the house and board it up, or (2) move everyone out of the house, tear it down and clean up the lot.

The council chose the latter option. The house will be demolished either by a city crew or a private contractor and the site cleaned up. The city’s cost of doing this will be placed as a lien on the property to recover those costs.

The two public nuisance items were part of a six-item consent agenda that was unanimously approved by the council. The other items included the permitting the public consumption of alcohol at a graduation party at Lakeview Cabin on Saturday, May 28 and at a class reunion at the cabin on Saturday, June 25. Bids were accepted for the sale of some surplus items from Valley Parks & Recreation. The Valley High Band Boosters had the high bid on a Kawasaki Mule, offering $2,700. Eric Frazier was the high bidder on two indoor basketball goals, offering $551 for one of them and $522.99 on the other one.

In the final consent agenda item, the city approved a resolution backing its participation in the July 15-17 back-to-school sales tax holiday.

The council called for a public hearing to be held prior to the Monday, April 25 council meeting to rezone four properties in the city. Under consideration is:

4The rezoning of a 3.8-acre site off Fob James Drive to C-3 (Community Business District);

4The rezoning of approximately 15 acres off 55th Street to M-1 (Light Industrial). This is the future home of Brumfield Electric and Communications (BEC) and Riggers, Fabricators and Millwrights (RF&M);

4The rezoning of 10 acres on the southwest corner of 55th Street and King Road from R-5 (medium density residential) to R-6 (high density residential);

4The rezoning of 30 acres off 20th Avenue from C-3 (Community Business District) to R-3 (Medium Density Residential).

Valley Parks & Recreation Director Laurie Blount told the council that her department had just gone through a busy weekend with a senior men’s softball tournament at Valley Sportsplex and a youth track meet at Ram Stadium. A total of 14 teams in the 60 and over age group took part in the softball tournament, and over 500 youngsters from 10 different cities took part in the track meet.

“It was a cold, windy weekend, but we had a lot of people in town for these events,” Blount said. “I’m sure it was good for our local businesses.”

Valley and Opelika will be sharing a tournament this coming weekend. With Easter being on Sunday, it will be a one-day tournament on Saturday with some games in Valley and others in Opelika.

Police Chief Mike Reynolds reported on Valley Police Department activity over the past three months. From January through March, there was a total of 3,479 calls to the police station, 220 reports made by officers, 105 road accidents, 1,446 traffic stops, 378 tickets written and 424 arrests made.

Reynolds said that the number of accidents had dropped over the three-month period and credited it to the number of traffic stops.

“When people see that blue light running, they tend to slow down,” he said.

Council Member Clark asked city residents to be careful when mowing their lawns. Clumps of grass that land in the street have been known to cause accidents, especially to those on motorcycles.

Council Member Randall Maddux asked Mayor Riley how city sales tax was coming in. He said they had been down slightly in February but had rebounded in a big way in March. Since the start of the fiscal year on October 1, they are up approximately $250,000 from the previous fiscal year.

Mayor Riley told Maddux that it was good to have him back for council meetings and he was pleased to see him moving around a lot better. Council members echoed that sentiment. Maddux was out for an extended period due to having had surgery.