At the regular meeting of the Logan County Commission, Code Enforcement Officer Ray Perry gave an update on the Dilapidated Structure Project. The project is sponsored by the Logan County Commission, along with state officials and the five municipalities in Logan County.
To date, more than 130 structures have been torn down by the landowners. Some of them were not on the original list, like the O’Neal commercial property recently destroyed by fire.
Perry and members of the commission praised the landowners who have taken care of their property.
“These property owners deserve our praise. They have taken it upon themselves to clear the dilapidated, damaged or destroyed structures from their property and make our county look clean. Now we are getting to the more difficult part of the project, where we are going to have to go in there and get the structures taken down,” said Logan County Commission President Danny Godby.
Godby said they started picking up trash on an annual basis five or six years ago, allowing residents to bring their trash to several different locations and the county would take it from there and dispose of it. Godby went on to say, “I spoke with John Fekete of the Hatfield McCoy Trails and he told me the trail riders have been telling him how much more beautiful the trails and surrounding area is than ever before. That’s a plus for us.”
Perry agreed with Godby and said, “The benefits are not only to the property owners, but to the county residents, the neighbors who have to look at the dilapidated structures every day, to the tourism business and the people who come in to visit this area.”
The work on this project began several years ago and the process required for the county to go through before taking action has been taking shape over the past two years. The county commission is serious about getting Logan County cleaned up and the time has come to move this project to the next level.
Perry said, “Within the next two weeks, I have been asked by the Logan County Commission, under the advice of counsel, to prepare 84 letters as final notification to property owners with dilapidated structures located on their property, which will be delivered by Logan County Process Servers.”
These 84 property owners previously received certified letters, which allowed them time to respond and make arrangements to clear the structures from their property. Those who responded were given a lot of latitude and additional time if they had circumstances that only allowed them to work a little at a time on clearing the property a little at a time.
The 84 who will be served letters got the same notice as the others, but Perry says they made no effort to respond. The letters they will be served include no grace period, no period to respond and a very small window of time for them to properly clear the structures from their property.
If the property owners do not make arrangements to clear the property, the county will begin the process of having it cleared.
According to Perry, it isn’t just getting the structure torn down. There is much more involved.
“We have to hire contractors, who have to be paid at the prevailing rate and asbestos inspectors and asbestos abatement contractors. There will also be tipping fees and administrative fees. The property owners could have a few friends come in rip it down and haul it away to waste management. They could get the property cleared for a fraction of the cost it will take the county to have the property cleared. A job that may have cost the individual $1,500 may cost the county $10,000,” said Perry.
If the landowners do not take action once the time set in the letters is exhausted, the county will begin the process to clear the property and the costs for them to do so, along with penalties, will be included in a lien for the entire cost of clean up and will be placed against the property.
What that means to the landowner is that they will have a beautiful, piece of property that has been cleared, leveled and seeded, but they will not be able to sell it without paying the costs associated with the clean-up. If the value of the property is $10,000 and there is a lien for $10,000, the landowner won’t make any money on a sale, and they probably won’t be able to ask more for the lot than it is worth.
Logan County Administrator Roscoe “Rocky” Adkins said he hopes that when these 84 receive the letters, they will go ahead and take action on their own.
“Once they get the letters and understand that we are serious about getting the structures torn down and the county cleaned up, they will go ahead and be like the others and do it themselves rather than let the county get involved. It would be better for them if they do. We have another 200 or more that we are getting ready to start the process for,” said Adkins.
Commissioner Danny Ellis said, “We are serious about cleaning the county up — dead serious.”