Residents want C’ton cleaned up

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By Kristin Beck

Carrollton resident Jimmy Supplee is tired of the way Carrollton looks, and he wants city leaders to know about it.

Supplee spoke to Carrollton City Council Monday, June 23, about the need to clean up the town. He opened by complimenting Mayor Gene McMurry and the current and previous councils for all the work they have done on the riverfront, including the river walk, Point Park and 2Rivers Campground.

“You all need recognition for the good job you’ve done down in town and on the Point, but there’s a whole lot more to Carrollton than just the Point,” he said.

Supplee, who lives on Main Street, said he is a minority in town because he is a homeowner. “I take pride in where I live.”

His neighbors also take pride in their homes, and he said he is not here to judge anyone on how they live, but when they are in his neighborhood, he expects them to clean up after themselves. He brought council pictures of houses with trashed yards near his home and abandoned houses throughout town, telling council that it is not just his neighborhood but on every street in town.
“Your nuisance law isn’t worth the damn paper it’s written on,” Supplee said. “… It’s your job and responsibility to do something tothese people.”

No resident in town deserves to look at this, he said. He said the city is just as guilty as everyone else, calling the old firehouse building project the “shack on Court Street.”

“I’m tired of looking at it,” he said.

The only decent way to drive into Carroll County is Hwy. 42 after getting of Interstate 71 at Exit 55, Supplee said. He said he is ashamed to have anyone come off of Exit 44 into Carroll County, but acknowledged that that is a fiscal court problem.

There also are dumpsters sitting on the streets in Carrollton and said there is no reason those cannot be covered up with a fence, Supplee said.

Everyone wants change, but everyone is afraid to stand here and talk to you like I am, he said.

Rental property owner John Cox was sitting in the audience. Supplee said he likes John and they are friends, but he has a house that needs to be painted.

McMurry and Councilman Mike Gordon both said Supplee was absolutely right in all that he said.

After Supplee spoke, Cox said tenants move in and out and tear up his property. He estimated that 90 percent of the renters in town do this. It’s not a landlord problem, it’s a tenant problem, Cox said. They just go from landlord to landlord and tear up property, and then he has to clean it up.

There is no money in the business, which is why he is getting out of it after 14 years. The tenants are the ones that leave mattresses outside, and they need to be fined.

Supplee said that may be, but he still thinks it is a landlord problem because we all need to set a standard.

That doesn’t mean they will abide by it, Cox said.

McMurry said Code Enforcement Officer John Welch sent out $50 in registered mail that day to the people they are talking about to give them notice to clean up their property within 15 days.

“Give them the opportunity (to clean it up), mayor, but if they don’t, then drop the hammer on them!” Supplee said.

McMurry said Welch does that. He talks to them and if nothing happens, then they start the legal action.

Resident Janice Spencer asked what the procedure was after the registered letters.

“Obviously a fine is just nothing to these people,” she said. “That’s the least of their worries is a fine because they’re going to continue to live there as long as they can and not do anything about it, but what happens and what is the time frame? Am I going to live out to see the community cleaned up?”

City Attorney Ed James said the city can fine them, but after that it must declare the property a nuisance and keep track of how much it costs to clean it up. The city can put a lien on the property, but that can end up being a losing proposition if the property is worth $25,000 and the city has a lien of $30,000 on it.

“I hate it, Jimmy,” McMurry said. “I don’t like it. I want to clean this whole town up because we’re not going to grow until we do.”

The mayor said he has a sample ordinance from two other cities they are going to use to try and strengthen Carrollton’s ordinance, but it is something they need to be careful with and make sure it is done properly.

“We’re hoping to make a big difference in the next year or so,” he said.
James & Wells, PSC. attorney Amy Eversole said Eminence has a requirement that foreclosures must register with the city. McMurry asked her to look into that, noting that there are some homes vacant on the back side of town on Fifth and Sixth streets that have been vacant for three years and the city does not know who owns them.

Regarding the Court Street property, McMurry said the city cannot do anything with it because it is in litigation and the court put a stop work order on it.

“I’m ashamed of it, Jimmy. I’m ashamed of it,” he said. “I want everyone else to clean up their property and we’ve got the ugliest piece of property in downtown Carrollton. But we can’t do anything about it.”

The city also has a program in place where if residents put mattresses out, Rumpke will take them, but only if they are in a plastic bag, McMurry said. The city will give people the bags, but they will not come and get them.

“It’s not just the tenants, it’s the landlords too,” McMurry said to Cox. “It’s maybe not you, but there are a lot of landlords out there, all they want is that money in their hand.”

Cox said that was true, but not all of them worked day in and day out like he and his wife have done. He agreed that the dumpsters in town were a problem, but landlords cannot stop people from throwing trash in them. McMurry agreed, saying people will use any dumpster not secured.

“We are working on it and it’s not fast enough and I agree with you,” he said. “It’s a mess and we’re working on it and I don’t like it.”

Councilman Robb Adams said council can go back and revisit the city’s ordinances. He also said he did not think there was an ordinance against repeat offenders at this time.

James asked Supplee if he has talked to fiscal court yet about Exit 44.

“I’m fixin’ to make a visit,” Supplee said.