Though they did not come to an official decision about protocol Monday night, members of the Crossett City Council signaled their approval of continuing the project to clean up abandoned and derelict properties around the city.
Crossett Code Enforcement Officer Tony Jones approached the council about the property at 404 Oak St., asking the members if they wanted to grant the owner an extension to improve the property before the city tore it down.
“I have been working on this process of this house for two years, but all of a sudden he doesn’t want us to tear down,” Jones said. “It is up to the council if we want to proceed on or put him back on the list or move on.”
The Code Enforcement Office has gone through all of the necessary procedures to demolish the house, which is across from Crossett Learning Center, Jones said.
Councilman Cary Carter said the property owner has already been given an extension.
“They have given him an ample amount of time,” Carter said.
Jones said that if the council granted an extension, it would only be for seven days.
Carter said the attempts at improvement on the property do not appear to be meaningful.
“I drove by there and even the tarp he has put on the roof has rotted,” he said.
Councilman Dale Martini said that if he lived next door to the property, he’d be at the council meeting “raising all kinds of Cain.” He also said the council should consider what kind of precedent the move would set.
“Are we prepared to give anybody a two-year extension?” Martini said. “I say ‘no.’”
The council also discussed how the cleanup ordinance can be complicated. Jones said some properties he works with are difficult, because they are placed on the list under one owner and then sold.
“If Mrs. Marshall owns a property and Mrs. Gulledge buys it, who do we send the bill? Do we punish the new owners?” he said.
Martini said regardless of the situation, the council members were elected with a mandate.
“One of the main things I heard (as I sought election) was we have got to clean up our town, it looks terrible,” he said. “If we are doing our job, we have an ordinance and we have an attorney we can look to for legal advice, (so) we need to enforce the ordinance. if we aren’t doing that, I want to be part of changing it. We need to do it.”
Carter told Jones that if he has done everything legally, “You should not have to come to us to tear it down.”
Jones said whatever move the city makes based on this case, “it has got to be a concrete thing where we don’t waiver.”
In other news
-Dianne Marter with the Crossett Water Commission told the board that many Crossett city customers have continued to pay their bill at the water plant even they are supposed to pay them at City Hall.
The council members told Marter that they want all city customers to pay at City Hall, and that the water commission’s employees should not have to accept those payments.
Customers who are on the WACWA system can still pay their bills at the water plant.
-The council adopted an ordinance clarifying that employees who are qualified to use medical marijuana will not be allowed to work in roles that involve the operation of city vehicles or equipment.
-A representative from the Crossett Port asked the council to consider paying for half of the repairs to the port’s anchor sleeves, which allow docking at the port. The port will pay for the repairs out of its own reserves no matter what, he said, but the cost would likely take the reserves down to zero.
The council did not take any action on the request, but did not rule out some form of future participation in the costs.
-The council adopted an amendment to the city’s farmer’s market ordinance to allow the sale of hand-made goods in addition to produce at the market pavilion.