A vote by the Princeton City Council Tuesday evening could put a dilapidated local property into private hands sooner than expected.
Although the West Washington Street property in question is not yet in city hands – negotiations with the owner remain under way – city officials are now considering the possibility of including ownership of the property with a solicitation for bids to tear the house and associated buildings down.
Code Enforcement Officer Dickie Thomas first approached the council with concerns about the property late last year, warning that its condition posed a health and safety hazard to the public. The home sits on a corner lot, putting adjacent streets and properties at risk in the event of a collapse.
He requested an increase of $25,000 in the city’s code enforcement budget to pursue demolition of the property, but the resulting budget amendment ordinance stalled at year’s end.
Earlier this month, Mayor Kota Young briefed council members on an amended ordinance, requesting a reduced amount -- $14,000 – in increased code funding, half of which would go toward the Washington Street project.
The plan at that time was to have the property’s current owner deed it to the city, then have it torn down and have the lot declared surplus and sold.
Now, a different option may be in the works.
Young said the city had been approached by an individual who requested the option of having ownership of the property included in the demolition bid, a move that would serve to offset the cost of the teardown.
City Attorney Todd Wetzel noted that the city did not yet have ownership of the property. Once it does, then further action could be undertaken. He phrased the motion before the council as one to declare the property as surplus (once acquired), then authorize the solicitation of bids for demolition and recognize the transfer of the property to the successful bidder.
Young recommended the bid solicitation seek quotes for both options – demolition without transfer of ownership, and demolition with ownership as part of the bidder’s compensation.
Council members suggested some conditions be included as well.
“There’s got to be the right equipment to go about this demolition,” Council member Jim Joiner said, noting that if the house is not taken down correctly, it could threaten not only neighboring structures, but also adjoining power lines. “I think experience plays a vital role,” he said.
Council member Brian Conger asked if bidders would be required to be insured.
Wetzel said he hoped any bidders would have at least $1 million in general liability coverage. Such language could be included in the bid solicitation, he suggested.
Council member Carl Copeland questioned whether the bid would also include removal of any other buildings on the property. Young confirmed that plan, noting that the lot would be completely cleared once the job was complete. The Princeton Electric Plant Board has agreed to deal with trees around the lot, he added, once the city has a clear title to the property.
With no further discussion, the council voted unanimously in favor of a motion by Sheila Gates, seconded by Morgan Rousseau, to proceed with the plan as proposed.
Second reading of the budget amendment ordinance, increasing the code budget by $14,000, was also approved unanimously Monday.
Meeting time change passed
In other business Tuesday, the council voted 6-0 on second reading of an ordinance changing the regular meeting time for the council.
Meetings will now be held at 5:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month (Tuesday in the event of a Monday holiday). Meetings had previously been held at 5 p.m. on those days.
The change will take effect with the council’s first February meeting, set Monday, Feb. 4.
* Council members also passed second reading of an ordinance authorizing the county’s animal control officer to enforce city animal ordinances.
* Lake Barkley Partnership Executive Director Amanda Davenport presented the council with packets detailing the economic development organization’s 2018 activities and plans for the year ahead.
* Conger discussed a recent meeting of the city’s flood control committee and said funding may be pursued to facilitate ongoing cleanup work in Eddy Creek, the outlet for the city’s stormwater.