GALLIPOLIS — The city of Gallipolis went forward Tuesday and filed its lawsuit in accordance with eminent domain procedures in order to appropriate a property at 745 Fourth Avenue in order to claim the dilapidated property and return it to grass.
The lawsuit was discussed at this week’s Gallipolis City Commission meeting.
“This is the first time that I’m aware that the city has taken steps to appropriate private property,” said Gallipolis City Solicitor Adam Salisbury. “We filed today and there are eight different defendants and seven different lien holders. So we will see how they respond. I don’t think that they have grounds to stand on. The property is worth less than what it would take to demolish the property and return it to grass. That’s what we intend to do with it and everyone knows that.”
The city has been attempting to contact a little over 10 different lien holders and owners of an old carryout property at 754 Fourth Avenue since July 2015. The passage of a previous ordinance granted the city solicitor authority to move forward with legal action in the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas to appropriate the property and then reportedly demolish and rehabilitate the property.
“We’re trying to make it easier to be reactive to some problems that come up,” Salisbury previously said about dilapidated structures in town. “With new (paperwork) forms, we’re trying to be more proactive too to make sure buildings aren’t getting into some of the conditions that they are in.”
City Manager Gene Greene said the city would be attempting to join fire and code inspections together in order to disrupt homeowners and business owners as little as possible. Code Enforcement Officer Brett Bostic, Salisbury and Greene have been discussing over the better course of a year how to tackle the problem of structure erosion within municipal limits.
The city commission previously passed an ordinance in January which established a registration for owners of vacant buildings, whether they be residential or commercial. The buildings would need registered with the code enforcement officer. The ordinance would also establish an inspection schedule for a twice-a-year examination. The ordinance would also attempt to establish an escrow practice in which if an owner was looking to demolish a structure, then an owner would need to offer an amount of money as an insurance bond with the city. According to Salisbury, this would promote owners to destroy a building completely. If not, the city could then use the money in holding to finish the demolition. Lastly, the ordinance created a fee schedule if a vacant building was not being remodeled or occupied. The first year a building owner would pay $200 on the vacant or non-remodeled building. The fee would then double every year to a maximum of five years.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.