Newburg City Council members want to work with Newburg Police Chief Chris Finch to help address safety and fire hazards at several buildings in town.
On Wednesday evening, the council and Finch talked about their plans moving forward with those structures as well as an update on the status of three burnt buildings that do not comply with city ordinances.
The council moved its meeting from Tuesday to Wednesday to avoid scheduling conflicts.
According to Finch, court date will be Tuesday for owners of two of the burnt buildings. The third building has a new owner, so Finch said a warning letter will be sent to that individual.
The council also discussed many other buildings in which the city’s building inspector and fire department have stated are safety or fire hazards.
Among the buildings mentioned at Wednesday’s meeting is a structure in which the façade and bricks were falling, a liquor store in which the front façade is just barely hanging, another building in which wood is coming off, a fourth building that has almost completely collapsed in and a building that used to be a barber shop in which the roof is falling down. The buildings are both residences and businesses.
Fire department volunteers initially brought a list of buildings to the council that they felt were fire hazards. When the council asked the inspector to look at those, the inspector also mentioned buildings that he has noticed problems with.
At last month’s council meeting, it was suggested that letters be drafted to the building owners to take care of their issue or violation and that the owners also would have an opportunity to attend a hearing before the board.
However, after reviewing city ordinances for weeds or other building violations, Finch suggested Wednesday that owners be given two warnings before the issue is brought to the inspector and then a citation would be issued. The initial letters will likely be sent out after the new year, Finch said.
“We want to clean up the town and have our residents take more pride in it,” the police chief said.
Finch plans on talking with volunteers, including high school students, or individuals in the community service program about cleaning up areas in town in the early spring of 2013.
“We need to start slow ... don’t come down heavy-handed,” Finch said.
Council member Alyson Garvey said, “I think we need to go after the half-burnt houses and ones that are fire hazards before we start on the rest. We’ll start with these ones and see how it goes.”
Also at the meeting, the council approved by a vote of 3-0 to purchase ball joints for two police vehicles. Council member Bill Stines was absent.
Finch said he estimated the cost to be about $260 plus labor for each vehicle. The council agreed to pay for the work on one car now and the other car later.