Grayson City Council opened its regular meeting last Tuesday by hearing from Karen Coburn with the 2020 Census on the development of a census committee and approving a new insurance agreement with Colonial Life, but it was condemned and unkempt properties that prompted the most conversation.

Code enforcement officer John Lands reported on notices sent to nine different property owners for issues ranging from unmowed grass to garbage, tree limbs and old tires stored on site. Some of those properties have since been cleaned up while others are in progress.

It was the condemnation of a property location at 533 Rupert Lane that Lands really wanted to focus on.

Lands said this is the second time the city has condemned the property, an unoccupied trailer that would need serious work to make it habitable. He told council that the property has been empty for eight months this time, but that he has 'been fighting for three years' with the property owner to keep up with the property and to make necessary repairs. He asked council to make a decision to go forward with taking the property owner to court, or to just leave the property alone.

Lands said after the most recent notice of condemnation was put on the property the owner put up a no trespassing sign, as well as a sign saying she would rent the property to anyone who was willing to make necessary repairs. Lands said the property owner, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, has been very difficult to work with.

When Lands has attempted to schedule appeal hearings, as required by law, the property owner has attempted to set very strict and limited timelines for when she can appear.

Lands also said that when the city has cut grass and cleaned up other debris on the property, they have had trouble collecting from the property owner.

Lands noted that the charge for cleaning up and mowing the property each time has been $100. However, when the property owner has been sent the bill, he said, she has responded by sending a check for only $5.

'I think we need to get rid of it,' Lands said of the trailer sitting on the site, noting that ordinance number 4 of 2005 allows the city to condemn a property if it is unoccupied for six months.

City Attorney Jason Greer said that while the city is legally required to hold an appeal hearing before acting on a condemnation notice and removing a trailer or otherwise tearing down a structure, they are not required to abide by any stipulations set by the property owner. All the city has to do, he said, is set a date for the appeal hearing and notify the owner.

Another condemnation notice on a second property, this one at 413 East Second Street, was also issued by code enforcement. Both property owners, Lands report noted, had received and signed for the notices through certified mail.

In other action council accepted department reports from emergency management, the police department, fire department, street department, and park department.

The fire department reported that they had utilized their new ladder truck in assisting the Olive Hill Fire Department during the large fire that took out an entire office and apartment block earlier this month. Chief Greg Felty said they used the pump on the truck for around eight hours and that the vehicle 'worked good.'

The only other item on the agenda was the 2019-2020 budget, under new business.

City council said they will present that budget at their next regular meeting in June.

Contact the writer at jwells@journal-times.com.

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