City Board hires more For trash

Published 4:48 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2019

By Jeremy Weldon

The Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen addressed trash in the city again this week, hiring three part-time employees to clean-up the problem areas. They also asked Code Enforcement Office administrator to contact the manager of an apartment complex that is especially trashy, the board said.

Northpark Apartments on Tubbs Rd. is often littered with paper cups, boxes, bottles, cans, and snack bags and no effort seems to be made to clean up the area, according to Alderman Stan Harrison. “I just can’t deal with it anymore,” he said. “It almost makes me sick to see what some of this city looks like and I’m saying that whatever measures we need to take we have to do it.”

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Comer said she had been in contact with the manager, Patricia Pittman, who told her the only trash on the property were limbs. “No, there’s a lot more than limbs, there’s trash everywhere down there. It needs to be cleaned up,” Harrison said.

No one at the board meeting was able to tell Harrison the amount of a littering fine in the city, or when it has ever been enforced. Police Chief Jimmy McCloud left the meeting and returned shortly to report the fine falls under a state statute and is $250 fine.

McCloud reminded the board that an officer must see an offender in the act of littering before he can legally issue a citation. “I’ve been here 26 years and I  don’t know that I’ve ever physically seen someone littering,”  he said. “I wake up on Sunday morning and pick up bottles out of my yard because they throw them at my police truck.”

McCloud also said that some of the trash on streets comes from the county’s garbage trucks when loose items blow out. Although residents are required bag all trash before placing it into cans for collection, many disregard the rule and fill the cans with unbagged refuse. “It blows all over town some days,” he said.

Comer also reported on the status of two properties which were supposed to be brought up to code standards by Jan. 15, but neither had been repaired or cleaned up as of this week.

Property at 124 Panola Ave., owned by Ephraim and Rolanda Kitchen, hasn’t been improved much Comer said. “The only thing we can tell they’ve done is taken the tire off the roof and replaced some shingles with different colored shingles.”

She suggested the board extend the deadline for the cleanup at the property (commonly known as the Hasseltine house) one week and ask the owners to appear before the board and state their intentions regarding the condition of the property.

She said the owners have not applied for any permits for upgrades to the house. “We just need them to come in at this point,” she said.

Comer updated the board about the property at 330 Panola Ave., owned by Joel Chrestman. The owner paid for a demolition permit on Dec. 3, 2018, but returned to the office to ask for the permit be voided and his $300 bond fee refunded.

Chrestman told enforcement officers he intended to have the structure demolished, but because of asbestos in the building the best quotes have been more than $10,000 from contractors. Comer said he wanted the city to continue with the process of condemning and razing the building.

He was unaware, Comer said, that all the costs of demolition, plus a $1,500 fine, would be placed on the tax rolls, and that total amount would be due in January, 2020. “He thought it could be paid when the property sold, but I told him that it would be due on his next tax bill,” she said.

Comer said the property owner, who lives adjacent to the dilapidated building, may be in jeopardy of having the costs of razing and the fine attached to the tax bill that includes his home. Chrestman told code officials both tracts are recorded together and he only receives one bill for both properties.

Comer said she will research the deed with assistant city board attorney Colmon Mitchell to determine whether the tracts are actually recorded together and report to the board at the next meeting.

Board members agreed to give Chrestman another week and ask him to also come before the council at the next meeting.