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City takes emergency action to remove chimney
City Emergency Chimney Declaration.jpg

The city of McMinnville has issued an emergency declaration concerning the demolition of the chimney at Warren County Courthouse.

The emergency declaration sites section 14-512.11, Remedying of Dangerous Conditions, of the City’s Zoning Ordinance and approves the demolition of the chimney at the courthouse.

In late December, County Executive Jimmy Haley brought the dangerous conditions of the chimney to the attention of the county’s Building and Grounds Committee. Haley said the chimney is deteriorated, has lost mortaring, and is beginning to lean more toward the building.

“If it falls into the building, it will go through the roof and into the courtroom and anybody that is in there is going to have some difficulty surviving,” said Haley during the Building and Grounds Committee meeting in December.

According to the emergency declaration, a written correspondence from city off i c i a l s , McMinnville Community Development director David Baird, city building inspector Stan Phillips, and city administrator Nolan Ming agree the chimney has deteriorated to the point where the structure could fall making it dangerous. The decision for the emergency chimney declaration was based on multiple different safety hazards observed at the site.

Some of the more serious concerns mentioned in the declaration include: The loss of mortar between bricks is quite severe in some places and some areas are so pronounced the visible loss of mortar can be seen from the City Hall side entrance.

A rod was installed between the courthouse roof and the chimney. It was originally installed to prevent the chimney from falling onto the lawn of Court Square. However, city staff have observed the chimney beginning to lean toward the building. The lean is significant enough to where the rod is not as tight as it was when it was first installed.

Exterior renovations to buildings located within downtown Historic District must be presented to the city Historic Zoning Commission for its approval. However, due to the hazardous condition of the chimney and the need to remove that threat to public safety as soon as possible, an emergency declaration allowed proper procedure to be waived.

“The Historic Zoning Commission has been notified and there were no objections concerning the proposed removal,” said Ming.

The chimney will be removed to roof level and capped to fix the safety hazard.