Uniontown clean-up gets tough

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 10, 2005

Call it “Extreme Makeover: City Edition.” Uniontown has brand new lampposts downtown, fresh sidewalks, and a greener streetscape. But for Mayor Phillip White and the other members of the Uniontown City Council, there’s still plenty of work to do before the “makeover” is finished.

That work continued at the Uniontown City Council meeting Monday night, where the Council voted unanimously to bring legal action against brothers Don and Ron Miller, who according to statements made during the meeting have allowed their Uniontown property to fall into disrepair.

“We’re working to get our city cleaned up,” white said during the meeting, “and have a better, cleaner town…so I would like to ask the Council to proceed with legal action in this matter.”

The Millers, whose property contains leaking vehicle batteries and spilled antifreeze according to statements made during the council meeting, twice refused to receive a letter from the Council asking them to clean up their act.

After the previous Council meeting, Uniontown fire chief John Williams was asked to deliver the letter to the Millers. But the Millers refused to sign for the letter and Williams returned it to City Hall. The letter was then sent by certified mail, but again the Millers did not sign for it and after three attempts the post office sent the letter back undelivered.

That led to the motion made Monday night to bring legal action against the Millers. Before passing, however, the motion saw some opposition from Councilman Terry Bassett, who asked for delay in proceeding so he could personally speak to the Millers.

“I just hate to take legal action without at least speaking to them in person,” Bassett said.

Councilman Toulis Jones, however, whose district contains the property in question, said that he had spoken regularly with the Millers and believed legal action was necessary.

“We gave them enough time,” he said.

The Miller brothers issue was only one of several handled by the Council Monday in an effort to continue beautifying the city. The most significant was the Council’s decision to send a number of property owners letters similar to the one refused by the Millers, asking them to bring their property up to city standards by the deadline of June 1.

“More than 100 properties in our city need attention of some kind,” White said. These letters will ask the individual property owners to get their property up to where it needs to be.”

According to White, the needs range from cutting back overgrown grass to removing disabled, decaying automobiles to knocking down dilapidated buildings. Councilman Eugene Booker was especially vocal in his support of the letters, noting that a house in his neighborhood had long since passed the point of being inhabitable.

“I’m tired of looking at that house,” he said.

The Council also passed an ordinance forbidding residents from allowing “junk cars” to sit and decay on their property.

“These junk vehicles are out there, sitting up on blocks and forming breeding pools for mosquitoes and spaces for rats to nest,” White said. “They’re a danger to the public health.”

The ordinance authorized the Uniontown Chief of Police to identify these “nuisance” vehicles, notify the owners of the property, and if necessary remove them at the property owner’s cost.

For White, each of these measures are steps towards a more economically viable Uniontown.

“Cleaning up our community,” he said, “is a big step towards encouraging new industrial development.”