Monday, July 18, 2016

City Council Condems Property to Clean Up Main Street

The Warren City Council met Monday evening at 5:30 p.m. for their regular monthly meeting.  After approving the minutes of the past meeting and the financial reports, Mayor Bryan Martin asked to move an item that was originally scheduled lower on the agenda to the forefront.  The issue in question was dealing with the burned out building on the corner of Main and Cypress which housed Words on a Shirt when it burned several months ago.  Building official Mike May told the council that a letter was sent to the owner on June 6 asking his intentions and urging that something be done. He informed the council members that the property was sold three days later.  After council members asked several times if the city had to start the whole condemnation process over with the new owner before the city could condemn it, Mayor Martin said that he had spoken with legal counsel and that they were in agreement that it was the seller's responsibility to inform the person to whom he sold it. The council then voted unanimously to condemn the property.  This will give the city some "teeth" in getting  the process of removing the potentially dangerous ruins and the cleanup of the property moving forward.

After the vote, two heads of local banks, John Frazer of Warren Bank and Trust and Freddie Mobley of First State Bank, addressed the council in support of moving forward with the removal of the remains of the burned-out structure.  Mr. Frazer told the council that the two banking institutions had a history with Main Street and that he supported cleaning up Main Street.  Mr. Mobley also spoke to the aldermen and told them about a reaction to the state of the building by returning visitors during the Tomato Festival.  While both men wanted to see the building cleaned up, they also indicated that there were other issues on Main Street.  They encouraged the council to "clean up downtown and get the town presentable" and to "move with haste".  Both men expressed their appreciation to the council for taking action.

The city council approved $29,801 in financial aid to be matched with a Department of Heritage Grant of $59,602 that has been awarded to the Chamber of Commerce.  The funds will be used to renovate and repair the old railroad depot adjacent to the City Park on Cedar Street.  Mayor Martin told the council that another grant was pending that would add $200,000+ to the project if funded.

The council also approved Resolution A601 to authorize the city to apply for a $300,000 grant to construct a pistol and rifle range at the Warren Shooting Complex where they already have a top notch facility for skeet and trap shooting.    The grant will not require a cash match but instead will allow the land's value to be applied to the grant.

The council received administrative and standing committee reports from Department Heads and Chairs of Boards and Commissions.   During the police report, two new police officers were introduced.  During the Fire Committee's report, two new volunteer firemen were approved: Tim Watson and Drake Harton.

The aldermen voted to authorize Mayor Martin to enter an agreement to sell the former Ortho Flex facility (old Jack Winter plant) to YCS, Inc. owned by Josh York, for $150,000.  YCS, Inc. will operate a commercial business in the building.  Prior to the city council meeting, the council's Community and Economic Development Committee had met and discussed the proposal.  The committee recommended the action taken.

In order to improve compensation for employees with over five years tenure with the city, financial bonuses were approved.

The council approved a new litter ordinance which will give the building official power to write citations.

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