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Condemnation proceedings dominate city board meeting

This recent photo shows damage caused by roof leaks to one of the interior walls of the building occupied by the UCDA. The historic building was built during the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt to serve as New Albany's post office.

Continuing work by the City of New Albany to clean up dilapidated buildings was the dominant subject of the city board’s February 2 meeting.

A house located at 625 Martin St. and another house at 831 Forest Heights were on the agenda for hearings relative to condemning the properties.

Work to condemn the 625 Martin Street house apparently began in September, 2014, and has been the subject of earlier hearings before the New Albany Board of Aldermen.

Eric Thomas, who inherited the file on the Martin Street house when he became New Albany’s code enforcement officer in 2015, told the board the condition of the house is that it “is pretty much gone.” He said the house fails to meet the city code in several respects, including a ceiling in a portion of the structure that is too low.

Thomas said that Robbie McKenzie, the owner of the house, had submitted quotes for repairs on the house and was issued a permit for those repairs Oct. 3, 2014, but “nothing has been done.”

Thomas also said those quotes from 2014 did not include work to get the ceiling to a height in compliance with the city code. City Attorney Regan Russell asked McKenzie during the hearing if he agreed that the Martin Street house is “not up to code.” McKenzie agreed that it is not.

The aldermen voted unanimously to give McKenzie 30 days to demolish the house, and, if he fails to do so, the city will have the condemned house demolished and will bill McKenzie for the work.

The house at 831 Forest Heights is owned by Mark O. Spiller and is a much newer case. The house was apparently damaged by fire. The city had given Spiller notice that the Forest Heights house “is in such a state of disrepair and/or un-cleanliness as to be a menace to the public health, safety and welfare of the community…” Eric Thomas told the board that Spiller’s house “is not past repair.

Spiller appeared before the board and told them he had quotes totaling $25,000 for work to bring the house into compliance. On the motion of Alderman Johnny Anderson, the aldermen voted unanimously to give Thomas 60 days to make progress on repairs to make the house habitable. He is to report on that progress at the city board’s April meeting.

In other action Tuesday evening, the board:

–Gave Fire Chief Steve Coker approval to hire Luke Taylor as a fireman.

–Discussed repair work needed at the UCDA building, which has roof leaks and a broken air conditioning system. A quote for the air conditioning work had been received from Riddle Air Conditioning of New Albany, but a second quote must, by law, be obtained before the work can be awarded.

There was discussion as to whether the air conditioning work should be done before the roof leaks are fixed. Alderman Anderson said UCDA Director Phil Nanney was “supposed to be getting quotes for the roof repair.”

The mayor and all five aldermen were present for the meeting.

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