Tisdale: I’ve spent more money
Published 2:11 am Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Four of the seven of the properties on which the council held abatement hearings Tuesday night were owned at least in part by John Tisdale.
In some cases, the council ordered action, and in others granted additional time for him to present a plan to correct identified problems.
Tisdale alternately defended himself, and blamed the city for not addressing problems or holding other owners to the same standards.
“I have spent more money in this town than has been spent in the history of this town,” he said.
Those properties included:
• 201 S. Three Notch, known as The Opera House, owned by Tisdale Family Properties, Inc.
Director of Planning Andy Wiggins said this structure is recommended for repairs.
Some improvements have been made to the building, he said, but attorney Ben Goldman pointed out that the city was not contacted about the abatement or plans for repairs until yesterday afternoon, just hours before the hearings were scheduled.
Wiggins said windows have been boarded up, but were boarded from the inside with thin paneling, which will not prevent further decay. He also noted problems with cornice work separating from the building and mortar coming from the bricks.
Goldman also said the building had a “blighting effect” on the area.
Tisdale responded that he had worked 40 years in the construction industry, building nuclear power plants and restoring historic buildings.
“Mr. Wiggins was a draftsman. Mr. (Richard) Moore, well, I’m not sure what Mr. Moore does,” he said of the director of planning and the building inspector in questioning the assessments. Tisdale said the building has a good roof, and many buildings nearby are in worse repair.
“I don’t know what (Mr. Wiggins’) motive is, but I bet you do,” he said of the abatement.
Mayor Earl Johnson said, “We can’t do an abatement on every building that needs action at one time.”
The council declared it unsafe, a giving the owners 20 days to begin repairs.
• 254 Historic Central St., owned by Tisdale Family Properties, Inc.
Goldman said the property includes four separate buildings. The recommendation is that the buildings be demolished and the debris cleaned up.
Wiggins said one of the buildings is just a shell and has no roof or floor. Another has a roof that “it’s just a matter of time before it’s collapsed.”
He also said there are railroad cars on the property that are attractive nuisances.
Tisdale first said problems with structures are related to a storm sewer drain that runs underneath the buildings, and a plan the city had to fix the storm system that dated back to the administrations of former Mayors Benny Barrow and Chalmers Bryant.
Tisdale agreed the buildings have serious problems and said he is waiting for a ruling from the Historical Commission as to whether the exterior walls are significant to the historic district.
When asked how long he had owned the property, he said, “since 1984 or ’85.”
Tisdale said he could not work out a plan because he has to correspond with the city attorney.
“That’s because you threatened to sue every one of us,” Johnson said. “Usually, if someone threatens to sue you, you get an attorney involved.”
This property will be considered again on March 1.
• Lot adjacent to 233 S. Cotton St. (Train depot), owned by John W. Tisdale Jr. and Jennifer H. Tisdale.
Wiggins said the lot is filled with building debris, rail cars that are attractive nuisances, and vegetation.
The council ordered that the lot be cleaned, and the rail cars secured within 45 days.
Tisdale said he would make “every attempt” to get the lot cleaned but that 45 days was not enough time. Among the rail cars on the property, he said, is a 1913 locomotive that is “extremely rare.”
• 223 S. Cotton St. (Train Depot) owned by John Tisdale
The recommendation to the council was that a wooden structure, formerly a freight warehouse, adjacent to the brick depot be removed within 30 days; that building materials, building debris, and weeds be removed within 45 days; that graffiti on the building be removed within 50 days; and within 75 days the roof or the brick being be repaired.
Tisdale argued that he has done work on this property, and that “if you vote to take this building down, you will have done Andalusia a major injustice.”
The council continued the public hearing on the property until its next meeting, set for March 1.
Other properties abated included:
• A home at 220 Crescent St., owned by George Patterson.
Patterson has presented a plan and has 120 days to complete repairs.
• A home at 222 Crescent St., owned by Jimmy Wages. The council ordered the building demolished.
The property owner can appeal the decision to circuit court. If this does not happen within 10 days, the city will have the house destroyed and place a lien on the property.