Meadows Place Mayor declares “War on abandoned homes”
By Karen Daniels
The City of Meadows Place has a problem with empty houses. At the October City Council meeting, an agenda item to repeal and replace sections of the city’s current code of ordinance, quickly became a divisive subject. Mayor Charles Jessup has been working on this solution for a year. “This is the first question I get from residents, complaining about the house next door that is dilapidated or abandoned.” This redefined ordinance, “Will not be a hammer, but it will give us teeth.”
Mayor ProTem Terry Henley made a motion to table this agenda item for one month due to some of the language in the ordinance. Two reasons he gave: 1) this would label homes abandoned after 90 days of vacancy, and 2) would require homeowners of vacant homes to keep their insurance current. Alderman John Isbell said, “This ordinance replaces one that ties the city’s hand, it gives the city a legal path to follow to protect our citizens, city and property values, and is not a weapon against law abiding citizens.” He wanted no delay in passing the ordinance. Mayor Jessup made his assurances that Meadows Place would not be taking away homesteads, and that any action on a homeowner would need to go before council first.
This wasn’t a public hearing, however, in Meadows Place, members of the audience can speak on agenda items for up to three minutes. During this part, the temperature in the room increased a few degrees as people gave their thoughts on both sides of the matter. Past Alderman John Whiteman stated that he was in favor of tabling the ordinance for one month. Shirley Isbell wanted to “protect citizens that live here, not owners that do not.” The motion to table the ordinance did not pass. The vote to pass the ordinance was tied 2 to 2 (one alderman was not present), giving the Mayor the deciding vote.
Ordinance 2013-25 passed. Mayor Jessup said, “In one year you will see a difference in Meadows Place, and in three years, there will be no abandoned homes.”
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