Property cleanup options found
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Mar 07, 2013 | 838 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
D. Gary Davis
D. Gary Davis
An answer is in sight for cleaning up two abandoned properties that pose environmental and safety issues to the community.

“They are both public safety hazards in their current state as they sit today,” said environmental officer Joe Renner.

Finding an owner or next of kin after learning the owners of one of the properties had died has been a major project for Renner, who is a Bradley County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

Renner told the Bradley County Finance Committee Wednesday he had found some options to getting help cleaning up the sites. A partnership with Bridgestone Tire’s community cleanup program would provide a free way to dispose of tires on the site.

“I’ll oversee it and set it up,” Renner said.

Funding for demolition of the dilapidated structures on the sites will be taken from the solid waste fund, if all other options fail. The finance committee approved this plan of action unanimously Wednesday.

Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said the funds could be used for this. However, he cautioned the committee should be careful about the precedent that would be set.

“That fund is restricted for solid waste management,” finance committee chairman Ed Elkins said.

Davis said it was important to limit when the fund would be used.

Elkins said if this fund was used, then when the property is sold the funds would go back to defray the cost. Although Davis said selling property with a lien on it is difficult, committee member J. Adam Lowe said there had been interest in one of the properties.

“In my opinion, it would have to be when there is not an owner that we can assess, because I think if there is an owner we have to go that route,” Elkins said.

Renner said this issue comes up very rarely.

The committee also voted to look at the initial resolution that established environmental court. Changes to the resolution to limit the county’s obligation to pay when an owner cannot be found will be considered at a later date.

When a property is found to have environmental concerns or is extremely unkempt, the property owners are asked to clean up the property. If the owners do not cooperate they are called into environmental court.

“We’ll work with them try to encourage them to clean up the property,” Renner said.

Fines are assessed for noncompliance. Rarely, when an owner refuses to comply, the county is held responsible in environmental court.

Also during the meeting:

- Bradley County Election Commission member Steve Crump said there are state grants available for updating voting machines.

The money could be used to upgrade the current electronic voting machines or to replace them with optical scan machines (a paper-based system), such as what Hamilton County uses, according to Crump.

“We’re not coming with a recommendation to you about that,” Crump said. “If we don’t use these funds, they will be lost.”

He said while the state would pay for the machines, switching to the scanned paper-based system would have a recurring cost.

Crump said the election commission wanted input from the County Commission before moving forward.

“We have complaints every election that the screens are hard to read,” Crump said. “Those machines are getting older.”

Current machines are functioning fine, Crump said.

Under the paper-based system, only one scanning machine is needed for each precinct.

“With each of these systems, you are going to find that with each benefit there is a potential complication,” Crump said.

The election commission will attend a work session in the near future to present more information about each system.

- Funds from the sale of the former Blue Springs Elementary School to Blue Springs Baptist Church were officially accepted into the county budget Wednesday. Davis said this money would help to offset the payments for mental health evaluations.

- Budget amendments were also passed to accept a donation to the Bradley County Juvenile Court, put funding in the appropriate section of the fire budget and bring the Capital Projects fund in line with the Long-Term Financial Plan.