Property cleanup has been a priority for the city in recent years. Teenia Carter, head of the Property Cleanup Division, provides monthly reports on the progress of homes in violation of city ordinances.
The City of Mendenhall adopted and follows the 2006 International Property Maintenance Codes. The Mendenhall Mayor and Board of Aldermen held their first regularly scheduled meeting of the new year on January 4. Carter’s monthly report featured approximately six locations that have shown improvement. However, a home located at 619 Pittman Drive owned by Jim and Josh Perry has not. The home has been on the property cleanup report for several months and Carter said City Hall constantly receives complaints about the home.
It is located in Ward 1 which is represented by Alderwoman Judy Lee. Lee explained that the home is a health hazard and has been in bad shape for years. Lee has been adamant about seeing the property cleaned since taking office. Lee said that there are several non-working vehicles in the yard in addition to piles of trash, and chained up dogs.
Lee said, “The city has been getting complaints about the place for at least three or four years. That house is complained about the most. It’s a health hazard for those neighbors, and I’m not going to let this go until something is done about it.”
Lee did not explain how the property was a health hazard, but emphasized the poor upkeep of the home.
Carter explained the property cleanup process stating that the city sends an initial notice via certified mail detailing the code violations, and the property owners have 14 days to clean the property or show progress. After the initial 14 days the if no progress is shown a second notice is sent giving the property owner another 14 days to show improvement. If no progress is shown then, the city can move forward with serving a court summons and taking the issue before a judge.
Carter said, an initial letter has been sent to the property owners and they agreed to work with the city and cleanup around the property. According to Carter, progress was being made initially, however the property has since regressed and become worse than before. Carter explained that the next step towards a solution will be a second notice then procedures will resume from there.
Home owner Jim Perry was available for comment.
Perry said, “Some people are disabled and not able to work in their yards, so if the city has a problem with it, they need to come help. I do the best I can with the condition I’m in. Everybody is not rich and can afford to get stuff moved, and until they start to pay my land taxes and mortgage then they can’t tell me what I can and can’t have on my property.”
Perry said, “I’ve been asking for a pothole to be fixed in my driveway and it’s on their right of way. It’s tearing up my cars so when they fix my pothole, I’ll clean up my yard.”
Alderwoman Judy Lee said, “It’s an ongoing battle, there are a lot of legal steps we have to take but once they’re finished, I believe the city can start cleaning things off.”
During the meeting the board received proof of publication for an upcoming zoning hearing concerning the old Sunflower building near the Revolving Tables. The hearing will be to discuss the use of the property as a convenience store according to Booth. Gas pumps would be installed and the property would need to be rezoned. It is currently in the heritage district. The zoning hearing will be held on January 25 at 6:00 p.m.
Chris Barron was hired as a part-time patrolman with the Mendenhall Police Department and Court Clerk Lorie King gave an update on cases. A contract for technology services was approved with the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District to assist with the city website and mapping data.
With the increase in Covid-19 cases the board discussed closing City Hall to foot traffic for 30 days and reassessing the situation at the next board meeting. Alderwoman Janna Miller highlighted the growing number of cases and the health of City Hall staff members. She believed closing City Hall to foot traffic was the best way to minimize exposure. City Hall was previously closed during the height of the pandemic and an intercom system was installed to help conduct business. After some discussion the board agreed to close City Hall to foot traffic for 30 days via majority vote. Alderman Robert Mangum was opposed.
Before adjourning Miller also motioned to have the next board meeting at the Mendenhall Armory to help facilitate social distancing. The motion carried with a majority vote. Mangum was opposed.