City clears apartment complex

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<p>Ed Galucki</p><p>Slated for demolition, the Linden Street apartment complex stands empty after the last tenants met a midnight deadline to vacate. Vandalized exteriors, trash, gaping windows and water from leaking plumbing hint at the conditions inside the buildings. </p>

About 60 days after being brought to the attention of the Cabot Public Works Committee, the Linden Street Apartments stood empty Tuesday after the last of the tenants met a midnight Monday deadline to vacate. City crews are set to seal entry to the condemned apartments, and the next visitors will be demolition crews.

City aldermen heard at the council meeting Monday that the condemnation and demolition of the complex, under the city hazardous structure ordinance, is nearly complete, along with five other structures deemed hazardous.

Mayor Bill Cypert and aldermen Ed Long, Ann Gilliam, Rick Prentice, Ryan Flynn, Kevin Davis, Angie Jones, Jon Moore and Patrick Hutton attended the meeting.

The otherwise brief meeting lasted about 10 minutes to approve the purchase of the property at the southeast corner of the intersection of Arkansas Highways 89 and 367 (South Pine and South Second streets); approved the 2013 city budget and procedural readings of other ordinances.

Proceedings to condemn the Linden Street apartments began after the Oct. 8 hazardous structures committee meeting. But before that meeting, a group of East Elm Street residents had gone to the Oct. 1 public works committee meeting to call for action on the deteriorating apartment complex.

The public works committee was not able to take action, but the residents were invited to attend the Oct. 8 Hazardous Structures Committee meeting. Members of that committee visited the apartments, and then recommended the city council take action.

Inspection by code enforcement found rot and water damage, unprotected breaker boxes, cracked walls, deteriorating siding, mold, shingle damage and indications of damage to roofs and failing foundations.

The report noted, “This entire apartment complex is in a state of disrepair as to cause hazard to the public … Every complex has issues with mold, rot, trash, exposed electrical wiring, and improper electrical wiring.”

A request by owner Robert Kennedy at the Oct. 15 council meeting that the council consider delaying the action pending the closing of the sale of the apartments was denied and the council ordered the apartments closed.

At the Nov. 19 council meeting, Prentice remarked that he had visited the apartments and that it appeared there were tenants still occupying the site.

Public Works director Brian Buroughs replied that the tenants had been given 30 days from Oct. 18, until Nov. 17, to vacate. “That was Saturday,” he said.

Earlier Monday, city employees and the police visited the apartments and warned remaining tenants that they had until midnight to vacate. Plans are to begin boarding the apartments Tuesday, he said.

“How long before we get the bulldozers?” Prentice asked.

Buroughs said he was awaiting advice city attorney on how to proceed properly.

City attorney Jimmy Taylor said he is working with the lien holders on how best to continue. “We should know within 30 days,” he said.

On Tuesday morning, a city employee at the apartments said it appeared that no tenants remained on site.

In other matters, Cypert announced that the new city council would be sworn-in at 10 a.m., Jan. 1, in a ceremony to be held in the council chambers of the City Annex.

Cypert also announced a special city council meeting to be held 6:30 p.m., Jan. 4. Agenda for the meeting would be announced after Jan. 1, he said.

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