Council moves forward on condemnation
For the first time in years, the Versailles City Council Tuesday voted to continue a process that will likely result in the demolition of a condemned house. A motion to direct Assistant Public Works Director Paul Simmons to seek quotes for the cost of the tear-down of a house at 209 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard passed 5 to 0. Council member Ken Kerkhoff was absent. The vote came after an update on the condemnation process from Isaac Hughes, the building inspector for the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission. After the meeting, Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott said the owner of the property had one more day (Wednesday, March 8) to apply for a demolition permit or make a good-faith effort to correct hazards. Traugott said he knew of a tear-down quote of a little more than half the $20,000 limit that requires competitive bidding. City Attorney Bill Moore said the council would still need to vote to demolish the building, which could occur at their March 24 meeting. Hughes also said the owner of a house at 213 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was notified March 1 that the condemnation process had begun on that building. The Planning Commission allows owners of such property 20 days to appeal the finding, though Hughes said he liked to give them an additional 10 days to get the building up to code or apply for a demolition permit. When buildings in city limits are condemned and demolished at city expense, the owner of the property is liable for the cost of the work. Moore said a properly applied lien on the property will take precedence over other creditors. New Year's Day Traugott told the council that city employees are normally given Monday off when a holiday falls on a Sunday. Because New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are both official holidays for city employees, and New Year's Day 2018 falls on a Monday, there was a question of how to handle the matter. Traugott said department heads recommended keeping New Year's Day a holiday and making Jan. 2 a normal work day, with employees working that day getting a personal day to use before the year's over. A motion to that effect passed unanimously. "It'll save us a little on overtime costs, and keeps our water billing in sync, which is a big deal," Traugott said. Litter ordinance A copy of an ordinance dealing with unsolicited materials left on private property recently passed by the Lexington-Fayette County Urban County Council was given to each Versailles council member. The measure is aimed at items like the Lexington Herald-Leader's Wednesday Community supplement, and people must opt out to stop receiving it. The ordinance showed the council's concern about "the proliferation of litter and visual blight," some of which can ends up in storm and sewer systems. The Lexington ordinance requires that unsolicited materials be placed on a front porch, through a mail slot or left in other, more secure areas. Traugott told the council the matter was likely to end up in court and that he favored an identical ordinance for the city of Versailles "so that ours will withstand the same muster that theirs (Lexington's) did, should theirs withstand it." Traugott said if no one objected, Moore would have a draft of the ordinance available to read at the March 21 meeting. No one objected. Quotes Near the end of a 27-minute meeting, the council unanimously approved a request from Simmons to purchase a new variable frequency drive replacement for Sewer Lift Station #3. Simmons said the $8,935 item from CI Thornburg Co. of Lexington is a motor that starts a pump, only one of which is operating now.