Jones fights for Arcola properties

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2006

It shouldn’t be hard to get rid of ugly, dilapidated homes that are breeding grounds for insects, rodents, and illegal actions on behalf of the city’s residents.

However, with the landowners determined to keep their buildings, or having disappeared from city, the Demopolis City Council is having a hard time cleaning up the town.

At Thursday’s city council meeting Charles Jones Jr., the son of councilman Charles Jones Sr., stood up to protect his land and buildings on it.

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“A while ago my properties were named a ‘nuisance to the city of Demopolis.’ But since then I have removed the dilapidated roofs and all the other issues that were making them a ‘nuisance,'” said Jones who as torn down all except for one of the buildings on Arcola Road. “Now, it’s more so a construction site rather than a nuisance in my mind because I’ve installed plumbing…I’ve invested money into it…and we are working on getting it to an habitable state.”

But according to the city attorney Rick Manley, Jones has had more than enough time to clean up his land since the land was condemned in 2004.

“It’s not a construction site because it’s been sitting there for years. It’s not inhabitable and therefore it is a nuisance,” Manley said.

Councilman Barry Collins said his personal concern was going back on his word to a community that has already expressed its discontent with the rundown buildings.

“You told us it would be ready by April 27 and I feel like if we grant you an extension, we will be breaching our trust within the community,” Collins said.

Just as the council seemed to have made up their minds to demolish what was left of the properties, Jones said he had never received an appeal after his land was condemned.

“I feel as though due process has not been served,” he told the council.

Thus, as a result of “miscommunications” between the current and former council and Jones, the council reluctantly gave Jones a 90-day extension to get the property up to par with the Southern Building codes – although councilman Jones abstained and Collins was against it.

“Almost 60 days have past since the original deadline and we haven’t taken action. I am embarrassed by that,” councilman Jack Cooley said.

“I agree that we’ve extended this a long time. But if 90 days will get it done,” councilman Thomas Moore said, “I say we give it to him.”

Therefore Jones has 90 days to get his building up to code complete with doors, roofing, windows, a faade and landscaping, or else his previous work on the land will be in vain.

“It’s time to get in and finish this. We’ve been working on this for eight years,” a frustrated Manley said, “It will be habitable of it will be destroyed.”