Swearing in

Benitez Jackson, left, was sworn in as the newest member of Oak Hill City Council by Circuit Judge Thomas Ewing in city council chambers at the outset of Monday’s regular monthly meeting. After the meeting, Jackson said he was excited to be serving on council.

OAK HILL — Dilapidated housing issues formed the majority of action required by members of the city council at Oak Hill's December meeting. The issues were the first facing Councilman Benitez Jackson, sworn into office prior to the meeting by Circuit Judge Thomas Ewing.

Nine of the 13 items on the council's agenda dealt with dilapidated housing, a program Oak Hill has tackled aggressively according to City Manager Bill Hannabass.

"If you have an aggressive program like we do, it's a very long, drawn-out process," Hannabass told council.

Council took under advisement, upon recommendation from the city's Structural Inspection Board, the request to order demolition of three properties.

The council approved the SIB's recommendation to order the demolition of House #199, Minden Road (Map 58M, Parcel 62), owned by Lori Byrd, but tabled requests to demolish structures at 205 Terry Avenue (Map 18, Parcel 387.01), owned by Edwin Warfield, and 215 Mayfair Avenue (Map 32, Parcel 162), owned by Betty Adkins and Raymond Jones.

The SIB request for the Terry Avenue property was tabled because Hannabass informed council, and shared documents verifying the assertion, the property owner is under contract to pay to have the structure destroyed.

Council elected to take no action on the Mayfair Avenue property recommendation after being informed by Hannabass that, although the property owners had visited his office to discuss the document served on them calling for the structure's demolition, the city has yet to receive official notification from the Fayette County Sheriff's Department that the property owners were served with the order.

Council also, on a unanimous vote, adopted a resolution to demolish a structure at 204 Third Avenue (Map 12, Parcel 63), owned by Suzan Blevins, and to lay an assessment lien on the property at 304 Thomas Morst Road (Map 58L, Parcel 99), owned by the Estate of Marie Hardy.

Of the SIB matters addressed by council Monday, the final three related to examining reports for properties on which the demolition already has occurred: 722 Summerlee Avenue, owned by Yvonne Warwick; 386 Lynch Harper Road, owned by Carlos Stockhouse et al; and another property on Lynch Harper Road, owned by Arnetta Sherer.

Demolition of the Summerlee Avenue property and the Stockhouse property on Lynch Harper both were completed on Nov. 20 at costs of $5,942.19 and $5,943.69, respectively, while the demolition of the Sherer property on Lynch Harper was completed on Nov. 22 at a cost of $5,974.49.

All demolition projects must be put out to bid and the final cost of the project includes the salvage company's fee, along with administrative costs for advertising and delivery of orders.

Council unanimously accepted the three demolition reports.

The city's Structural Inspection Board next meets on Jan. 7, 2020.

Of the process the city must go through in dealing with dilapidated properties, Hannabass told council the SIB plans to discuss at that meeting if there might be a way to streamline the steps involved.

"Properties come before you six times," he told council, adding the board hopes to trim that number down while still following code.

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In other action, council approved the second reading of an ordinance allowing the restriction of a parking space in front of the Med Surg building at the intersection of Highland Avenue and Main Street because of sight line problems and one providing for the annexation of the property at 217 Patterson Street into city limits. The property lies contiguous to the city and the owner requested annexation. After the annexation was unanimously approved, Hannabass assured the property owner that he would take it to the county commission for approval at the earliest possible date.

Council also approved the abandonment of approximately 113 feet of right-of-way between Gatewood Avenue and Bunch Street so that the two properties on either side of the dead-end right-of-way can be combined into one and, finally, granted an easement and right-of-way between the City of Oak Hill and Mountaineer Gas along the White Oak Rail Trail so the gas company can increase the size of lines providing service to the northern part of the city.

The goal, Hannabass said, is to help keep gas pressure up during peak usage times and is necessitated by the additions to infrastructure in that part of the city, particularly the new schools at the Oak Hill school complex. The move will allow the company to connect two different grids, creating a loop effect.

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Council will next meet on January 13, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers

Email: ckeenan@register-herald.com or follow on Twitter @fayette_cheryl

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