Walnut Ridge City Attorney recommends action on crumbling buildings

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – The safety of the citizens living in Walnut Ridge could be in jeopardy if action isn’t taken on at least one crumbling building.

That’s according to a letter from City Attorney Nancy Hall to Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp and city council members.

A special meeting will be held this Friday at 5 pm at the police complex to finalize new rules and regulations for the new trash container carts and video camera system to be installed on new garbage truck. Discussion on this matter will also be held.

Here is the exact letter:

“​Re:​Engineering Reports

Dear Mayor Snapp and Aldermen:

I have received a packet of information from Code Enforcement Officer, Frank Owens, concerning three particular commercially zoned properties in the heart of the downtown area. All three are in very poor condition and at least one appears to be posing an immediate threat to the safety of our citizens. Chief Owens has ordered an opinion from Parsons Engineering out of Sharp County and I was provided with the reports on the structural integrity of the buildings. I believe each of you has been provided with these reports also.

The former Baker Electric building on Front Street is the first of concern as it has structural damage to the front of the building and a collapse means it could fall onto cars or pedestrians on Front Street without further warning. Looking at the back of the building, it is completely collapsed, which seems to offer even less support for the front of the building to remain standing. I feel this is the building we must be willing to immediately move forward on and action should be taken to cite the owner and force a clean-up of the property.

I am asking the Council to drive past this property prior to the Emergency Council Meeting on Friday, July 7, 2017. Please come to the meeting prepared to discuss this matter fully. I will answer any questions possible about the various processes available to the City and what each option would entail.

Other commercial buildings in the City are becoming increasingly unsafe in addition to the building mentioned above. I believe it is time for the Council to make a decision about the direction the City should take in removing these dangers to our citizens. This is not a light decision as financially each removal comes with ancillary costs and potential suits. If we are to move forward with condemnation, the Council must be committed to the possibility that funds will need to be expended to raze and remove each of these structures (as well as many others that are less of an obvious danger at this very moment but are not structurally sound and will need future action). The money put forth by the City can be recouped but the recoupment will not be sudden or immediate.

Regardless, it is time for the Council to provide direction and make a commitment to the condemnation of structurally unsound and unsafe buildings or allow the Code Enforcement Officers to pursue other issues in the City that can be handled without a large cost. The decision is completely in the hands of the Council and I believe all are willing to accept whatever decisions are made.

I ask that the Council consider the issues mentioned herein and provide your City Attorney as well as your Code Enforcement Officer with a direction and decision.

Sincerely Yours,

Nancy L. Hall, Esq.

City Attorney

City of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas”

Photos by NEA Report

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