Marked Tree Council passes condemnation ordinance

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Marked Tree City council passed a condemnation ordinance Monday night while an ordinance requiring property be kept free of tall grass, garbage, and other unsightly conditions failed to get enough votes for approval.

City Clerk Pam Wright led the meeting in Mayor Mary Ann Arnold's absence, who has been out of the office after having a pacemaker put in. Alderman Cleo Johnson asked if that was legal, and Wright said a statute that went into effect five years ago allows the city clerk to run the city council meeting in the mayor's absence.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance laying out rules for the condemnation and removal of houses, buildings, and structures constituting a nuisance within city limits. Wright said this was the main thing Mayor Arnold wanted to get passed this month so the city can get to work on condemning and removing derelict property. "The thing I like about the ordinance is that it has to go through you on everything," Wright told the council. "It will keep you in the loop." She said the mayor had a couple houses she wants to bring before the council next meeting for condemnation.

The ordinance requiring property to be clear of tall grass, weeds, garbage, and other unsightly articles failed to pass with a vote of 4-3. The ordinance set out fines of $200 for the first offence, $250-500 after the third offense, $500-750 after the fifth offense, and $750-1,000 after the sixth offense.

During discussion, Alderman Danny Johnson and Cleo Johnson both had a problem with fines. Danny Johnson said he didn't see how they could fine the average person if they're not going to fine the railroad for not keeping their property mowed. Wright said they have sent fine after fine to the railroad, but they never pay, and she has called them countless times. At one point, Danny Johnson suggested getting rid of the fines entirely. "Bring them (the railroad) to court, and I'll vote for it," Danny Johnson said.

In other business, the council agreed to sell a lot owned by the city to Mike McCullar for $500. The lot is adjacent to the Poinsett Cafe, and McCullar plans to fix it up and turn it into a parking lot. Wright said the city will help him put in a handicap ramp as well.

The council also approved allowing Larry Crockett to use a trailer frame in a foundation and build a new trailer on top of since he was not allowed to put a trailer older than ten years on the site. And the council hired three maintenance workers for the street/water department.

Wright told the council the mayor wants to apply for a park grant, though she is not yet sure what amount the grant will be for. She will be attending a meeting next week to find out the details. Wright said if they get the grant, she thought they could put in new bathrooms at both parks with stainless steel fixtures--so they could not be torn up--as well as more equipment, pavilions, and possibly netting .

The citywide cleanup will be Saturday, May 13.

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