Council moves on code enforcement
MIDWAY - The city council Monday held first readings for ordinances that would establish a code enforcement board and allow the city to crack down on blighted or abandoned properties. " The main thing is, we are no longer going to allow people to take advantage of their neighbors in the sense that they keep property that has become blighted and deteriorated and abandoned ..." Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said after the meeting. "And it's unfair to the other residents of the city who take care of their property. So we're going to uphold that to the highest extent of the law and we're going to surprise some people, because a lot of people think it can't be done. But they said the same thing about Midway Station ... and sidewalks around town ..." A code enforcement board of at least three Midway residents would be nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the council. The board could order that blighted properties and nuisances be cleaned up - and give the city the ability to do the work if the order isn't complied with and place a lien on the property with an eight percent interest rate until the project is paid for. In response to a question, Vandegrift said he considered the administration of his predecessor, Tom Bozarth, to be a "caretaker administration, and that's not a bad thing." Vandegrift said it's possible that eminent domain could be declared as well. Second reading on the ordinances will be held at the council's Oct. 16 meeting, but Vandegrift said a vote on them might not occur until the first meeting in November. Police negotiations Council Member Bruce Southworth reported that the city of Versailles is requesting an increase for police protection from $100,000 annually to $165,325 - or 4.25 percent of the total police budget. Council Member John McDaniel said that percentage is lower than the seven percent of county residents who live in Midway. The Versailles City Council and Woodford Fiscal Court have tentatively agreed to an extension of the 2004 police merger. Monday night, no council members expressed opposition to the increase. Vandegrift said state law dealing with contracts between government bodies requires that when one party is the county, the contract must reflect the fact that city residents pay city and county taxes. University athletes Two top officials from Midway University's athletic program told the council of their desire to collaborate with the city on clean-up and other projects. Athletic Director Rusty Kennedy said character development is part of the mandate of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, of which the school is a member. He said the university tries to ensure its athletes do at least 15 hours of community service annually, and Vandegrift said he'd solicit project requests from the community. Council Member Libby Warfield said, "There are always leaves in Midway." Infrastructure improvements? Developer Nick Bentley and businessman Bryan Lynch appeared before the council to ask about infrastructure improvements to Gratz and Warfield streets. Bentley said he wanted the council to consider integrating the area into downtown Midway by adding street lights and sidewalks and adding a cul-de-sac by the ballpark. Vandegrift said it was a great idea and suggested the council's Public Works and Services Committee study the matter and figure out a price tag and timeline for the improvements. Encroachment permit denied Southworth, chair of that committee, said the committee suggested the council deny an encroachment permit at 120 South Winter Street. The property owner allegedly added a gravel driveway and fence leading to the street without proper permission. The council unanimously denied the permit. In response to a question from Warfield, Vandegrift said if the city has the ability to fine the property owner, it will do so. The property owner may also be required to take down the fence if it's determined to be in the city right-of-way.