Opp Council: Demolish house

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 21, 2015


The Opp City Council meeting briefly turned heated and one member walked out after the council voted to move demolish a home that has been of much controversy over the last few months.

The home, located at 402 Charles St., has been on the council agenda four times in two years after multiple complaints from neighbors about the condition of the property.

Jerry McCormick is the most recent resident of the home, which is owned by his family.

In November, the council gave the owners 30 days to provide the city a plan of action to repair the property, but McCormick, appeared at the council Tuesday without a plan for repairs.

However, Susan Herrin, a representative of CHOPP, a community organization formed last year to help community members in need, came to the meeting with a plan for the home.

Mayor John Bartholomew did not let Herrin present CHOPP’s plan because the organization does not own the home.

Councilmember T.D. Morgan, who has been a proponent for allowing the property owner to fix the home and who has donated his own time to the cause, slammed his book down and left the meeting in response to a motion by Councilmember Arlin Davis and a second from Councilmember Mike Booth to move forward with the abatement.

Previously, Bartholomew has said there is no water, electricity or sewage service to the house, and that windows need to be replaced.

Additionally, the revenue commissioner’s assessment appraises the home at $17,670, with a replacement cost of $29,000, according to the city.

As part of CHOPP’s plan, the group would demolish an addition to the home, which is structurally unsafe and have plumbers and electricians come in and evaluate the home in order to repair it.

“The plan I was going to present included a short term plan and a long term plan for the property,” Herrin said. “In the next 30 days, we were planning to replace the front windows, the front door assembly and secure authorization from the owners to remove the addition. In the long term, we wanted to remove the addition as weather permits and have plumbers and electricians inspect to see what needs to be done. No one can give a full assessment to see how much it will cost until we get to the base of the home.”

Councilman Bobby Ray Owens voted in favor. Councilwoman Mary Brundidge voted against and Morgan exited before casting a vote.

“If we do this, we put the man on the street,” Morgan said, after the meeting. “I’m not good at political stuff. I’m just trying to do what’s right.”

City Inspector Wanda Summers said Tuesday afternoon that the city would proceed as the law allows to demolish the property.

“We had calls to abate this property since 2013 and we have drug our feet,” she said. “We all feel very bad about it, but it’s not humane for Jerry to live in a house that isn’t safe.”

Summers said she advised the homeowners that they could give written, notarized permission for CHOPP representatives to speak on behalf of them. However, Summers has not received authorization. “We will demolish it when we can get to it,” she said. “I’m going to put a notice on the door that says it has been abated.”