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Chase City moves forward with plans for blighted buildings

SoVaNow.com / March 12, 2014
Chase City Town Council has agreed to move forward with plans to draft a new town ordinance to address blighted structures and hire a building official to enforce possible penalties against the building owners.

The ordinance could generate funds to cover the cost of inspections and help defray the cost of demolition work that the town may need to undertake.

The decision to hire a building inspector springs from discussions held last month after several residents complained to Council about derelict landowners. At the end of that discussion, Council members created a committee to investigate the possibility of hiring a building official on a part-time basis.

Town Manager Ricky Reese contacted a qualified individual who has done other work for the town, and he agreed to fill the position of building inspector. However, further investigation revealed a problem with hiring only a part-time official. According to Chase City Mayor Eddie Bratton, “The implementation of the rental district program would be a significant effort given the number of rental properties within the corporate limits. The initial inspections and the follow-up inspections would soon become a full-time function for the official and add considerable clerical effort to assure timely inspections are done in subsequent years.”

To plan for the ordinance, Reese contacted other towns, both large and small, to attempt to quantify the impact a rental district program would have on the town’s budget. Blackstone was one of the towns that Reese contacted, and after hearing about its rental district program, he recommended moving forward with the program and hiring a building official.

In other business at the regular monthly meeting of Chase City Council on Monday night:

— Bratton thanked the town’s public works employees “for their highly successful efforts dealing with the unusual amount of snow and ice they have had to deal with since our last meeting.”

Bratton expressed pleasure with the speed at which town roads were plowed and readied for traffic after snow and ice fell over the area on Friday.

Bratton also commended the town police department for their work during the storm. Not only did police have to deal with accidents and street blockages, but there was also a break-in during the ice storm that required their attention.

— Council adopted a fleet safety program recommended by the Virginia Municipal League, which provides auto insurance for the town fleet. “While this does not now impact our cost for insurance, given the way things happen, it is not unreasonable to expect some requirement tied to insurance in the future,” Bratton explained.

— Council also adopted a rehab program design for the West Third Street Community Improvement Project, a $1 million federal block grant that will pay for building or rehabilitating 21 houses and provide road improvements along West Third Street in Chase City.

Bratton announced the next meeting of the Community Watch will be held next Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the fire department meeting room.

The third annual Chase City Easter Egg Hunt will take place on Saturday, April 19, at MacCallum More Gardens beginning at 11 a.m. The garden will be divided into one section for the younger children to search, and a larger part of the garden for older children to explore. The stuffed eggs are being provided by local churches, by the Town of Chase City, and by the Chase City Chamber of Commerce.

With this combined effort, there will be thousands of stuffed eggs in the garden for children to find, said Bratton. Hopefully, the weather will be as accommodating this year as it was last.

During public comment, Fred Gaylor expressed his concerns over unlicensed tree pruning contractors. Chase City has no authority to regulate or license individuals in the business.

R.C. Hartley inquired if any progress has been made with the Buckingham Branch Railroad concerning the crossings at Sycamore, Third, and Fifth Streets. The town tried to schedule several meeting with BBR representatives, but weather caused each effort to be postponed.



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