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Troy ordinance would ‘add teeth’ to clean up blight, unsafe homes

The Troy City Council had a first reading of an ordinance Tuesday that Mayor Jason Reeves would ��put teeth” in the city’s code to address unsafe buildings in the city.

Chuck Ingram, building official, said the ordinance would state nine specific conditions in which a building would be deemed unsafe.

The nine conditions include: failure to meet code at the time it was built, ingress or egress issues from the building, any deficiency in what the building is being used for, a structural deficiency that would allow people or animals to enter the residence, 25 percent of a non-supporting exterior having a structural deficiency, inadequate utilities, inability to be serviced by fire or police personnel, and remaining structure on a property following demolition or removal of a building.

“This gives us a real solid foundation to clean up a lot of areas that (the council) is very, very familiar with,” Reeves said.

Ingram said the ordinance would also change some of the remedies for unsafe houses, including that plywood cannot be “slapped on” outside over a window.

If the ordinance is adopted, Ingram said the current cases being worked would be completely scrapped and restarted with the new ordinance in effect.

Ingram said the new ordinance would not necessarily mean the cleanup can happen immediately, as building owners would be given 30 days to make the needed repairs with additional channels that could allow the owners to have additional time to make repairs. The council would also still have the call over whether to tear down a building.

“It’s not a short and sweet process, but with this ordinance in place it would begin to work itself out,” Ingram said.

Reeves added that if a building is torn down, the cost would be attached to the property owner’s property tax so that the city is reimbursed.

The council could vote on the ordinance at its next meeting on Tuesday, July 9.

The city also approved the purchase of The Studio from the Johnson Center for the Arts at a cost of $90,000, which Reeves said was below market value. The city sold the building to the JCA in 2005. Reeves said buying the building back will benefit both parties.

Resident Irene Tellis Mahone came before the council to complain that the Troy Police Department did not take appropriate actions when responding to multiple incidents involving a mentally ill relative. The council took her concerns under advisement.

Verlicia Perry addressed the council asking for support of a nonprofit she plans to open in Troy called the Purple Closet Door, which she said will service the House of Ruth, local schools and Troy University.

The nonprofit would provide attire and rides for job interviews as well as job uniforms if the candidate is hired. It would also provide some clothes for school children and food gift cards to some residents in need if they do not already have food stamps. For the Troy Support Services and Troy Student Counseling Center, the organization would provide pamphlets and “coat covers” (condoms), with “inspirational messages” included. Perry demonstrated the “coat covers” to the councilmembers during the meeting Tuesday.

The council approved the Pike Area Transit System (PATS) at level funding for another year, providing the usual local match of 50 percent of operational costs and 80 percent of administrative cots.

The council also unanimously voted to approve the formation of Southeast Energy Authority, which Reeves said would allow cooperation “with Southeast Gas on energy purchases that would benefit the city and our rate-payers.”

Reeves said the formation of the authority is the first step in exploring the potential benefits to the city.

The council heard an ordinance that would rezone approximately 20 acres of land off U.S. Highway 231 across from Brantley Mobile Home Park from mobile home zoning to commercial zoning.

Leigh Anne Windham was appointed to the Downtown Troy Redevelopment Authority, taking the place of resigning member Allen Jones, who resigned due to the county’s involvement in the Hutton Troy Marketplace project.