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Kudzu, safety prompt council action

A photograph of a gray fox sitting atop the remains of a Jernigan Street building near downtown was perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence members of the Andalusia City Council had to convince them Tuesday to proceed with abatements at several locations.

The council agreed to:

A property abatement at 110 Jernigan St. The former commercial building has collapsed.

Weed abatements on Historic Central Street and South Cotton Street. Neither piece of property has a street number, but both are overgrown with kudzu. Director of planning and development Andy Wiggins said there may be problems with the buildings that would cause a need to abate the structures; however, he said, the kudzu needs to be removed so that can be determined.

A property abatement of a house at 406 E. Watson St. severely damaged by fire, but still open and standing.

Wiggins said the property owners have received courtesy letters asking them to comply with city ordinances. They will now receive a certified letter from the city and will have 15 days to appeal their cases. If they appeal, they can come before the council and plead their case, asking for leniency. If they do not appeal and do not comply, the city can clean up the property and bill the property owner in the case of weed problems, or proceed with demolition. City ordinance 1994-7 sets out the guidelines of the process.

Two weeks ago, the council began the abatement process with eight property owners, and Wiggins said there are a number of other issues that will come before the council in coming weeks.

“We aren’t singling anybody out,” Mayor Earl Johnson said. “This is being done strictly by the books.”

Wiggins said city officials have tremendous success with people coming in to compliance after receiving courtesy letters asking for their cooperation.

In other business, the council:

Approved the low bid of $464,000 from Amity Construction Co. for the new police training facility.

Approved a retail liquor license for Good Restaurants, LLC, which will operate Rancho Grande Grille in the old Golden Corral building.

Entered an easement agreement with Omega Rail Management for work to be done as part of the River Falls Street project.

Recognized Dwight Mikel, leisure services director, who was honored with the Jim Spain award by the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association last week.