Center Point Council votes unanimously to demolish derelict houses despite pleas
By David Lazenby
CENTER POINT – Despite urging from area citizens asking city officials not to raze homes they own or have an interest in buying, Center Point city councilors voted during a called meeting held Thursday to demolish eight derelict Center Point houses, including the two for which there was an objection.
Prior to the meeting, the council held a public hearing at which several people asked Center Point officials not to destroy a home at 2620 5th Street NE that was damaged by a fire, or a residence at 225 23rd Ave. N.W. marred by a 2012 tornado.
Maritza Vega, who currently resides in Pinson, said she was prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars to do the extensive repairs necessary to make their home on 5th street habitable.
Ricky Hinkle, Center Point’s building inspection superintendent, said he believes fixing the house’s various problems will cost more than Vega anticipates because of cracks in the foundation and the need for mold remediation. He also said the house needs extensive wiring and plumbing repairs.
Council president Roger Barlow agreed.
‘I feel your plight, but I don’t think it’s going to be worth your money … it’s going to cost a lot of money to fix,” he told Vega. Barlow added he didn’t think Vega’s family had previously put forth much effort to repair the house.
Vega said the project was stalled after the house’s wires and cables were stolen while she and her family was in Mexico for about a year.
Hinkle said the building permit had been made void by Vega’s inactivity on the project.
“By building code, if a property ceases work for 60 days, the permit becomes void, or after one year it becomes void,” Hinkle said. “So, the permit is void,”
Also during Thursday’s public hearing, Jorgee Garcia asked the city to refrain from demolishing a property at 2620 5th Ave. N.E., which was damaged by fire. Garcia does not own the house. However, he wants to purchase the home from his mother-and-law and repair it.
While Garcia indicated that he planned to do the repair work himself, Hinkle pointed out Garcia does not have a home builders license, and therefore cannot, by law, do the repair work.
Again, Barlow pointed out that a serviceable home can be purchased for less the amount it will cost to repair the property Garcia is interested in repairing. Hinkle said Garcia would practically have to demolish the house and rebuild it himself because of the pervasiveness of the house’s fire damage.
Hinkle said during a Council meeting last month that the home was damaged beyond the point of repair in a fire that took place more than a year ago.
Councilor Linda Kinnemur recalled from a previous meeting in which the house was discussed that there was a sentimental component to Garcia’s interest in repairing the house.
Other houses the city council voted unanimously to demolish included properties at the following locations:
— 436 Woodlawn Court N.E.
— 1657 6th Place N.W.
— 1316 Huffman Road
— 308 23rd Ave. N.E.
— 1700 5th Place N.W.
— 1400 Huffman Road
The public hearing also dealt with two properties recently razed by the city: a house at 213 23rd Ave. N.W. and a home at 508 Tupelo Way. No citizens spoke up in regard to either of these properties.
Also during Thursday’s called meeting the Council approved an ordinance to amend the zoning for a property at 117 21St Ave. NE from R1 to R3.
Barlow said the purpose of the rezoning was to allow the property owners to convert the house to a duplex.
“I’d like to reiterate this is not for an apartment complex or a building,” he said.