Two city ‘blight’ properties get reprieve; one ordered cleaned immediately

Baldwyn Board of Aldermen continues to make efforts to get properties in the city either brought to code or demolished and cleared

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The Baldwyn Board of Alderman voted at its October meeting to initiate cleanup of the Joe M. Davis property at 403 S. Third Street. It is one of several properties on the city’s radar for cleanup or demolition in an effort to battle blight. News photo/Jason Collum

BALDWYN | Two properties in town that had been slated for demolition and clearing are getting a reprieve as the owners have promised much-needed repairs.

Another property, however, reached the end of the line with the Board and will now face mandatory cleanup by either the city or a contractor.

Baldwyn’s Board of Aldermen on Tuesday approved giving Timothy Price and Juanita McGee additional time to bring their respective properties up to code and restored to livable conditions. Price is the son of the late Albert Price Gates, whose home at 629 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive was badly damaged many years ago by fire. City Code Officer Aston Alexander told the Board the property had been in its current state for at least five years, and the city had targeted the property, among several others, for demolition. However, Timothy Price appeared before the Board at its October meeting and asked the board to allow him time to make needed repairs. After some discussion and questioning by attorney Greg Beard, the Board agreed to allow Price 120 days to get the work done and report back to the Board on Feb. 7, 2021 to give them an update.

Similarly, the Board also voted to allow Juanita McGee 30 days to develop a plan of action to bring the property at 824 Price Street, the Jewel McGee estate, up to code. McGee told the Board the house didn’t require much work to make it livable, such as raising and leveling a bedroom floor, and Alexander agreed with the assessment. Beard advised McGee to obtain an itemization from a contractor on what work was needed on the property and have it ready by the next Board meeting.

Another property owner, Chris Hamblin, appeared before the Board and agreed to the demolition and clearing of the Marshal Edge property in town. He asked for 90 days in which to do the demolition work himself. The Board agreed, with the stipulation the work be done within that time frame and Hamblin is to appear again at the January 5, 2021 meeting with an update report.

One property owner, however, has exhausted the patience of the city as the Board voted to initiate cleanup of the Joe M. Davis property at 403 S. Third Street. Davis did not appear before the board as summonsed, and both Beard and Alexander described a situation that they said had become a public nuisance and health hazard. Alexander said Davis was fined in 2019 in court over the condition of his property and he had cleaned it some, but that it was back in bad shape and getting worse. Alderwoman Lynda Conlee said on the day of the meeting she saw two chest freezers in the front yard with lids open, which could pose a hazard. The Board voted to immediately begin cleanup on the property, either through a contractor or with city employees. Alexander urged the board to consider a contractor as he had concerns that Davis might react badly should city employees come onto his property.

Beard advised the Board that the vote gave the City the authority to move on cleaning up the property at any time within a year from the date of the vote. Any expenses incurred by the City in demolishing and clearing a property will either have to be paid by the property owner or the will be placed as a tax lien against the property.

A property that has already been set for clearing is one step closer as the Board opened bids on the demolition and clearing of the Raper property on East Clayton Street. Robin Conwill Construction appeared to have submitted the low bid of $6,475, but the Board asked Mayor Michael James to confirm whether that included demolition, clearing and leveling or filling in of any holes after concrete slabs were removed. One other bid specified all three items but was significantly higher.