By Loyd McIntosh, For The Tribune
CENTER POINT — The Center Point City Council continued its aggressive campaign against dilapidated and hazardous structures during its bi-weekly city council meeting, Thursday, Feb. 3.
The council opened the meeting with a public hearing on four properties cited for neglect and for creating a dangerous environment in the community. The properties under discussion were as follows:
- 2805 9th Street NE
- 417 Kim Drive
- 1816 1st Street NE
- 520 Sunhill Road
Speaking on behalf of the Kim Drive property, Center Point resident Roderick Harris asked the council for a 30-day extension allowing him time to clean the property up. During his statement, Harris said the home has been vacant since it was involved in a fire in 2018. The house belonged to his mother who passed away soon after of the complications sustained in the blaze.
Harris said he has been involved in legal disputes with Wells Fargo, which foreclosed on the property in the process. Harris said he has declined several offers from the bank to regain ownership of the property and that he has been prohibited from doing any work on the home in the interim.
Additionally, Harris accused the court system, including the mediator on the case, of unethical behavior in favor of the bank, and asked the council for time to work with City Attorney Julian Hendrix to bring closure to the issue.
“I am going to get this resolved but I am here to ask you all to be more patient with me,” said Harris. “What I can do is work directly with your attorney and share with him everything I am about to do in the next 30 days.
“I am going to bring to light some illegal activity that’s going on with the court system. But I have the documents to prove what my point is and I think I will prevail.”
After several minutes of back-and-forth discussion with Harris, the council and Hendrix, it was determined that the city actually could not consider Harris’ request since he is not presently the owner of the property.
“If you’re not the owner of the property, then you can make a request, but the city wouldn’t have the legal authority to grant it because you’re not the actual owner,” explained Hendrix. “Having an interest in the property without having title to it or having it deeded in your name doesn’t give the city the legal authority to grant you an extension.”
Following the public hearing and a period of public comment from citizens, the city council voted unanimously to demolish all four properties.
In other business, Center Point Mayor Bobby Scott briefly outlined a new debris pickup plan, addressing one of the chief topics of concern for city residents since Waste Management discontinued brush and debris service in mid-2022.
“We have come up with a plan to give residents the option to use the city as their bulk pickup option,” said Scott. “For a fee of $50 for 10 cubic yards, the city will send someone out to pick up your debris. If you have more than that, of course, you’ll need to adjust and pay for the extra.”
Scott added that informational flyers will be distributed to the community outlining the program, including pickup times and the types of materials the city can and cannot accommodate. He added that the program can begin as soon as the council approves the program.
“We hope to have everything on a roll and get things cleaned up a little bit better than they have recently,” he said. “The city doesn’t make money off of this, but this is a way to hopefully keep our city and neighborhoods a little bit cleaner.”
In other city business
- The council tabled a discussion regarding ongoing negotiations with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department over a new contract to provide police service in Center Point. Shortly before the beginning of Thursday’s council meeting, the Sheriff’s Department sent a new contract proposal to the city, at which time the mayor and council decided to delay discussion until they had more time to study the proposal.
- The council accepted a quote from Studio 2H Design, LLC for engineering and architectural services to bid on a new stairwell for City Hall.
- Council President D.M. Collins invited the community to the first Neighborhood Watch quarterly meeting of 2023 at Rochelle’s Place Coffee Bar, Saturday, Feb. 18, from 10 a.m. until noon. “If you’re looking to be involved in Neighborhood Watch, please come out to this meeting,” said Collins.
- Councilman Glenn Williams invited the community to a Community Wellness meeting on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 10 a.m. to noon. “I want the residents to come out and let us know what they want, what they expect, and how we can move the city forward,” said Williams.