City Manager Janice Casteel reported to Cleveland City Council members earlier this week that Joe V. Williams has until June 25 to demolish the house at 470 4th St. After that date, the city may proceed with demolition, then place a lien on the property for the cost of razing it and disposing of the materials.
“That makes it final then,” Mayor Tom Rowland said.
Another topic of discussion among the Council and staff came during a review of budget amendments placed on the consent agenda. The amendments were used as a mechanism to transfer unused grant funds from fiscal year 2012 to FY2013. One line item in the amount of $19,185 indicated the funds would be used for purchasing video cameras to mount in patrol cars.
“On the video cameras, we may need to look at that [and what it will add] to the cost of a patrol car,” Casteel said. “They are very important as a routine piece of equipment.”
She said grants were used in the past to equip the cars with cameras, but some newer cars do not have them.
“This grant is being used to fund that, but I would recommend that if we purchase police cars, we recommend they are equipped with video cameras,” Casteel said.
Chief of Police Wes Snyder estimated the cost of each unit to be between $5,000 and $6,000.
“The newer ones will automatically download when a car pulls within proximity of the server,” he said.
Automatic downloads remove the need for supervisors manually removing disks or manually manipulating the system. Currently, the video cameras begin operating when the blue lights are turned on, though all aspects of when, where, what and how much video is recorded can be controlled from the police station.
“Any evidentiary video will be just that. It’s not touched by hand,” he said.
Concerning the Williams house on 14th Street, the city of Cleveland petitioned Bradley County Chancery Court on Jan. 27, for authorization to demolish the house gutted by fire Nov. 25, 2010.
According to the complaint, the house was neither demolished nor repaired, but left standing in a dangerous and dilapidated condition with little work performed on the 88 year-old structure.
No action was taken by the city until several months later on April 18, 2011, when Williams was sent a letter informing him of ongoing code violations and requesting the situation be remedied. Williams applied for a building permit on June 20, 2011, to fix the house at an estimated cost of $50,000.
Since the structure is located is in the Cleveland Historic District, Williams was sent a letter from the city’s Community Development Department dated July 19, 2011. On Aug. 9 of that year, Mitchell Cobb of M.T. Construction in Chattanooga filled out another building permit for repairs costing an estimated $45,000.
Williams applied to the Historic Preservation Commission for a Certificate of Appropriateness, but at the Aug. 16, 2011, meeting of the Commission, Cobb stated he was unprepared and would like to move the item to the Sept. 6, 2011 agenda. However, neither Williams nor Cobb appeared. On Sept. 20, 2011, Cobb advised the city he would secure the house with a new roof and a rebuilt porch and return in October with detailed plans for the remainder of the repairs.
Williams appeared before the Commission on Oct. 18, 2011, and was granted a Certificate of Appropriateness after he indicated all repairs on the structure would be completed within 60 days.
A city representative met with Cobb on Dec. 9, 2011. The building was still not secured and very little work had been done, according to the suit. Cobb allegedly advised the building inspector he would immediately speak with Williams about the failure to comply with the city’s requirements and timeline. He also advised the building official he would get back in touch with the building official that day.
According to the complaint, neither Cobb nor Williams contacted the city prior to Jan. 9, when the Cleveland City Council authorized the city attorney to pursue litigation.
Williams did not respond to questions sent via email.