Warren County Commissioner Carl D. Bouldin is pushing a cleanup of 4437 Yager Road and it appears the effort will be successful.
“The people of my district want this cleaned up,” said Bouldin. “We’re always talking about tourism and beautifying our county. Drive out that way and see how pretty that is.”
During Monday’s full Warren County Commission meeting, Bouldin asked county codes inspector Rich Thompson about an inspection he conducted of the property that same day.
“Since the last time I drove by it, it has been burnt out,” said Thompson, who cited 2016 as the last written complaint he received on the property. “Not sure when that took place. As for what can be done about it, I’m being told there are liens against the property.”
County Executive Jimmy Haley previously said the county lacks the authority to clean up the property due to having no property maintenance codes. However, Bouldin presented proof to the contrary.
Bouldin presented state law against criminal littering, as well as a resolution passed by Warren County government in February 2008 that established the county codes department and it included the job description, the procedures to follow for when property owners endanger the health, safety or welfare of others by non-maintenance of property.
“If the person fails or refuses to remedy the condition within 10 days after receiving the notice,” Bouldin stated, “the appropriate department or person shall immediately cause the condition to be remedied or removed at the cost and conformity with reasonable standards and the cost thereof assessed against the owner of the property. The cost shall be a lien upon the property in favor of the county.”
This, said Bouldin, gives the county codes department the authority to force a cleanup, and county attorney Robert Bratcher agreed.
“This is something we do have the authority to do,” said Bratcher. “The statute clearly states that it’s something we can do. We get a complaint, we go out and look at the property, issue a citation to the owners, they don’t respond, 10 days pass and then it has to be cleaned up. It can be done.”
Bouldin added, “Your complaint will be there tomorrow. It has to be in writing, I’m assuming.”
“Yes, it does,” said Bratcher.
Thompson said there are no funds within his budget to demolish the building and clear the property. “Once you call out something as being a hazard to public safety. If they don’t do it within 10 days, the county has to step in and clean it up and do it. We don’t have anyone to do that. We don’t have funding or the department to do that. It puts me in a dilemma. If I cite somebody, it places the county in a position of liability once it doesn’t get taken care of.”
Commissioner Gary Prater stated, “Let’s get an estimate on cleaning it up and go from there. Get an idea on what it’s going to cost. Surely the county can come up with enough money to have it cleaned up. We’ll have a lien against it, as well as the taxes due. We would be the first to get our money back. I’m sure the county can come up with the money. We don’t have problems coming up with money to spend in other areas. I’m sure we can find the money somewhere.”
Property taxes on the 4437 Yager Road have not been paid in several years. According to county records in July 2021, combined unpaid taxes on the property are $7,728.
During previous commission meetings, liens and “legal issues” have been cited by both Haley and county attorney Robert Bratcher as to why the property was not included in the last tax sale. Bouldin came prepared to dispute those statements, as well.
“I talked with Congressman Scott DesJarlais office and there are liens on the property and stuff, but that carries no weight whatsoever, according to that office. The liens aren’t against the property. They are against the person who owns it. They said the IRS determines which pecking order the money is distributed after the tax sale.”
Bratcher said the property is slated to be included in the 2022 tax sale.
When contacted by the Southern Standard on Tuesday, Bouldin confirmed the complaint has been written, is being signed by several property owns in the district, and will be submitted to Thompson in the next couple of days.