City Council closes structure unfit for human habitation

On Tuesday, the Marion City Council authorized the removal of people living from a residence that has no electricity, no water supply, inadequate heating, a leaking roof and the presence of raw sewage, and close it off from any other human habitation.

Earlier this year, the City Council adopted a minimum standards ordinance with rules about structural conditions, safe and sanitary maintenance, plumbing systems, heating systems, electrical wiring, control of insects and rodents and disposal of garbage. The city’s building inspector would determine if a dwelling is unsafe and represents a threat to life and property if it doesn’t meet the conditions outlined in the ordinance.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, the City Council heard from Planning Director Heather Cotton about the conditions at 174 Park Ave. This structure has been deemed unfit for human habitation due to the following conditions:

• No electricity supplied to the structure

• No working drinking water supply

• No working hot water supply

• No operating heating facilities that would maintain a comfortable room temperature

• Presence of overloaded, non-isolated electrical circuits or unsafe or exposed wiring

• Lack of properly functioning sanitary facilities

• The presence of raw sewage or an open sewer from inside the dwelling (whether from broken or plugged fixtures or coming from the outside) or the presence of inadequate ventilation of sewer systems

• Roof in disrepair which is compromising the integrity of the building and allowing rainwater to come inside

Cotton said the owner of this structure was been notified through certified mail about the “many issues” there and has been fined as a result. She issued an order to vacate and close the dwelling after the owner failed to comply with the notice of violation, which was also sent through certified mail. By the time the timeframe for compliance had expired, the property owner had failed to take any action to comply with the order.

After hearing from Cotton, the City Council voted to have the residents removed and the structure closed so no one else can live inside it.

“We can’t allow people to live in a place that’s completely unsafe,” said Mayor Steve Little. “A dog house would be safer than this.”

Little then asked Cotton if the structure at 174 Park Ave. could be used for fire-fighter training. She said it is not even safe enough for that.

In addition, Cotton gave an update on the Drexel Heritage cleanup effort. The city is negotiating with D.H. Griffin Companies, which turned in a bid of $1,219,759 to clean up the massive piles of debris at the site. There is now approximately $988,000 of grant money remaining in the Drexel Heritage budget. Cotton said she and other city staff are working with D.H. Griffin to find ways for this to come within the budget.

Council also took action on a street matter.

The council’s Street Committee met on Nov. 20 to discuss the concerns of Linda King about her fiancé not being able to drive his large truck to their residence on 5th Street, Clinchfield.

After reviewing the situation, the Street Committee recommended that the current traffic schedule ordinance prohibiting trucks with three or more axles on 5th Street and other nearby streets be changed to a no-through truck restriction, which would allow trucks to be driven to a residence. The City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance making this recommended change.

Finally, the Marion City Council adjourned the meeting in memory of former President George H.W. Bush.

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