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 Carthage Puts Property Owners on Notice

November 12, 2008 - Owners of two problem properties in Carthage have been given 30 days to tear down one uninhabited, dilapidated residence and to do the same to another if extensive repairs are not made.

At last Wednesday’s monthly Carthage Town Council meeting, building inspector Bob Bullock provided council members with copies of his inspection reports and orders on the two properties, located at 202 E. First St. and 309 E. Fifth St. He said he had not had contact with the owners, identified on the paperwork as William and Sherry Chandler, but told the council that copies of his orders and notices of public hearings would be sent by certified mail the next day.

Bullock’s order on the 202 E. First St. property declares the building on that lot to be unsafe and requires its removal. In a two-page report, he said an inspection on Oct. 1 revealed numerous structural problems rendering the building uninhabitable and unsafe to enter, and concluded it should be condemned and razed, which, he said, would cost far less than making needed repairs.

Serious structural problems were also found at the 309 E. Fifth St. location. While this residence was not condemned, Bullock’s three-page inspection report says it will need to be removed if extensive repairs -- including a new roof, rafters, corner support posts, exterior framing and replacement of the foundation -- are not made. Bullock also said a shed and another outbuilding on this property need to be removed, as will a barn unless its roof framing is repaired.

Council President Rick Bush asked the town’s attorney, Chuck Todd, if there was any way the town could force quicker action on the 202 E. First St. property, saying its condition had worsened since Bullock’s inspection last month. Todd said he would need to review state statutes to determine what steps, other than those initiated by Bullock’s orders, the town might be able to take and what due process would need to be given to the owners.

Bullock’s orders give the Chandlers 30 days to address the problems on these two properties, and they will have an opportunity to address the council on these issues at public hearings on Nov. 19. After the hearings, which will start at 6 p.m. and be held at Town Hall, the council can vote to affirm, rescind or modify the orders issued by Bullock.

If the town council approves the orders, the Chandlers will have until Dec. 6 to comply with them. If they fail to do so, the town can have its employees or outside contractors remove the offending structures at the owners’ expense, and be entitled to file a lien against the properties and file suit to recover costs to the town and a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per property.

“It’s a shame it’s going this direction,” Bush said of this issue at last week’s meeting. However, he said the council was prepared to do what it takes to get these properties cleaned up, including going to court if necessary.


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