By Nathan Prewett
LEEDS – The Leeds City Council declared a house on 7580 Cahaba Avenue to be unsafe and a public nuisance due to its deteriorated condition against the wishes of the owner, who had an interest in renovating the building, at a meeting on Monday, May 3.
A public hearing was held in which the man, who identified himself as Wesley Sims, spoke to the council and said that he had found the house from a seller last summer and had spoken with the inspections department in Leeds, as well as engineers to renovate the building and bring it to code for he and his family to live in.
Sims also said that he had the yard cleaned up, expressing confidence that the house can be fixed within his engineer’s timeframe. He pointed out that the general area around the property was “blighted” and wanted to help rehabilitate it.
“I want to see a neighborhood there again one day,” he told the council. “And I want to be a part of it.”
Public Works Director Brad Watson then spoke to the council, saying that Councilman Kenneth Washington placed the house on a list for condemnation.
The recommendation for condemnation was made after the inspections department noted failures in the building’s foundation, supporting walls, roofing, electrical systems, and plumbing systems. Vagrants had also used the building and caused damage to the interior.
Watson presented photos showing some of the damage to the structure, which can be found on the agenda portion of the city’s website. He said that because of the damage the house is under the Existing Building Code, which he said states that all of the systems in the structure have to be brought back to code.
Sims spoke again and mentioned that the interior has been cleaned and refurbished but said that the structural damage remained an issue. He also said that structural plans were being formed but estimated that they would be ready to be reviewed in approximately a month.
The effort to renovate the building was doubted by city officials, including Glen Williams from the building inspections department, who said that it would be “a substantial amount of work to bring it back to code.” Mayor David Miller doubted that the plans could be formulated in the timeframe.
After discussion, the council voted unanimously to pass the resolution in the regular meeting after the hearing. Sims was visibly angry with the decision, and a brief but tense exchange began between him and Miller. The mayor said that Sims’ point of view had been heard but Sims disagreed before leaving the building.
Following this, the council then tabled a resolution to consider municipal court appointments to a future meeting.
In reports by department heads, Fire Chief Chuck Parson again mentioned a live fire training drill that simulated fire emergencies for the fighters. He also said that next week he and others in the department will be going to a meeting in Ohio on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Leeds Jane Culbreth Library Director Melonie Carden reported that the library is preparing for the summer reading program on May 17 and that activities will be done outdoors, with most being done at Leeds Memorial Park and one at the Red Barn.
Meetings are held on the first and third Mondays of every month. Agenda packets can be seen online at the City of Leeds website.