Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas
The Cairo City Council has asked the city attorney to look into the possibility of reducing the amount of time local property owners have to demolish or raze a structure once a permit has been issued.
Monday night, the council discussed the issue with city council attorney Thomas L. Lehman, who agreed to research the issue and offer suggested changes to the existing ordinance.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas said it was his understanding that a property owner had 180 days from the date a permit was issued to raze or demolish a structure. “What I think is happening is folks are stretching it out and not making progress, but they are in compliance with the ordinance,” Douglas said.
The city councilman said he favored reducing the time to complete the demolition to 90 days and give the building official authorization to extend the time if significant progress had been made.
According to Douglas, it appears some have obtained permits and maybe begun a little work and then stopped. “It needs to be reduced down. 180 days is quite long,” Douglas said.
Mayor Howard Thrower said in his discussions with city building official Brian Hayes, the six month deadline comes from the state building code. “I don’t know if we can change it,” the mayor said.
Mayor Thrower also said often times property owners are having to deal with insurance companies and that can extend the time to complete the work.
Councilman Douglas said that Cairo city manager Chris Addleton had not mentioned anything about the state regulations in their discussions. Councilman Douglas also pointed out if work is not completed in the 180 day time frame the city’s only action is to issue a citation and then the matter goes to municipal court which means further delay.
Attorney Lehman suggested possible revisions to stipulate that work is initiated in 30-60 days and action to address the problem if substantial work is not done by the end of that time period. He said the city is willing to work with those who are “dealing in good faith” but he agreed the ordinance should be revised to deal with those who are not.
Councilman Lannis Thornton said that there are structures slated for demolition that have not been razed and it has been going on two years. “That’s a long time on a main road,” he said.
“Or, if you are living next to one of them it seems even longer,” Councilman Douglas added.
Neither the city manager nor Councilman Demario Byrden were present Monday night. Byrden has missed a total of three meetings in the last two months.
In other business, the council:
‰Adopted a resolution to remove 11th Avenue S.E. between Fifth Street S.E. and Sixth Street S.E. from the city street system, to make room for the construction of a new nursing home connected to Grady General Hospital.
‰Approved the alcoholic beverage license for the sale of beer and wine retail package at Cairo IGA. Charles Linn Hanks is the applicant.
‰Heard a request from Councilman Jerry Cox for all city residents to respond to the U.S. Census if they haven’t already. Councilman Cox also urged local residents to remain vigilant in combating COVID-19 by wearing facial masks, maintaining social distancing and aggressively washing hands and avoiding touching of one’s face.