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Chase City beefs up ordinance for derelict buildings

SoVaNow.com / April 16, 2014
The Town of Chase City has a new tool to address the problem of blighted buildings scattered throughout the town — an ordinance adopted by Council on Monday that requires owners to ”remove, repair or secure dilapidated or dangerous buildings” and funds a part-time building official who will be responsible for enforcing the law.

The ordinance defines a dilapidated building as any residential, rental or commercial structure that could contribute to the spread of disease or injury, creates a fire hazard, is liable to collapse, or lacks doors and windows, making it a target of squatters.

The owner of any dilapidated structure has 30 days after receiving a notice declaring the building to be a danger to demolish the building, or 45 days to remedy the condition. Owners objecting to the finding must appeal the decision of the building official within 15 days after receiving the notice.

If the owner fails or refuses to demolish or repair the structure in accordance with the ordinance, the town can demolish, repair, or secure the site and charge the expense to the homeowner by placing a lien on the property.

If the taxes or lien remains unpaid for five years, the town can sell the property and keep the monies it collects from the sale.

In other business Monday night, Council members accepted title to the Chase City Community Park property. The park was the former home to Chase City’s Dixie Youth and Chase City Babe Ruth softball leagues.

Earlier this year, the board of the Chase City Community Park merged the Chase City ball clubs with Clarksville’s Dixie Youth programs. As a result, the board also voted to donate all the land in the park to the town, according to Mayor Eddie Bratton. Town Attorney Russell Slayton, Jr. prepared a deed of gift transferring the land from the Community Park to the town.

Also, preparations continue on the Washington Street Housing Rehabilitation Project, which is being funded with a federal-state Community Development Block Grant.

Nine owner-occupied units will be rehabilitated during year one of this multi-year project. Four houses will be substantially reconstructed, four vacant or substandard units will be demolished, and storm water improvements will be made in the neighborhood. In year two, ten additional units will be rehabbed, three substantially reconstructed, and one demolished. Additional storm water improvements will take place as will neighborhood debris clean-up.

During the public comment period, Mayor Bratton reassured residents that Chase City’s water supply was never affected by the vapors released into the air at the Roanoke River Service Authority water treatment plant two weeks ago. Brown and murky water reported recently in parts of town was caused by work done on one of the storage tanks that supplies water to the town.

The tank was drained for cleaning and repair, and when it was refilled and repressurized, Bratton explained, it loosened rust that had built up in the old cast iron pipes.

When asked by one local resident if she would see any discount on her water bill for having to clear the pipes by running water, Bratton said, “unfortunately no.”

Vice Mayor Lisa Gillispie, who also serves as Chase City Chamber President, invited townspeople to take part in several upcoming events including: the April 19 Easter Egg Hunt at MacCallum More Museum and Gardens, April 26 Cruise In at the Food Lion, April 26 Volunteer Fire Department Fish Fry at 5 p.m. (cost is $7 per person), and the April 26 Ruritan Club Musical Memories fundraiser that starts at 7 p.m.

May 6 is the 60th anniversary celebration of the Chase City Ruritan Club, and May 18 is the Chase City Birthday party.

Town Manager Ricky Reese announced that next week, April 21-25, is spring clean-up week around town.

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