On Monday, the East Ridge Housing Commission gave the owner of a dilapidated house on East End Avenue another month to come up with a plan to move the structure or tear it down.
Housing Commission Chairman Eddie Phillips reviewed the situation, saying the city had been working with the owner, Leroy Wanzell, for about five years on a resolution. The house, which has been empty for years, is partially in a flood way and was previously zoned legally non-conforming R-1. Since it has remained unoccupied for several years, the structure has lost its residential zoning status. The city’s Codes Enforcement Department had condemned the house and was prepared to tear it down and put a lien on the property when it sells.
Wanzell appealed the city’s order to have it razed to the Housing Commission at a meeting in November. At that meeting the board gave Wanzell 30 days in which to have an elevation study performed to see if the structure was indeed in the flood way. The study confirmed the house was in a flood plain and flood way and would have to be elevated some nine feet in order to be habitable. In addition, the structure would then be zoned for commercial use only.
Housing commission member Jim Winters advocated for Wanzell, saying that he thought the structure located at 1310 East End Ave. was sound and it could be rehabilitated. Winters disliked the idea that the city would now mandate the property be rezoned for commercial use after having been residential for more than 50 years.
Kenny Custer, Director of Community Services and also the city’s chief building official, explained that he and his department were only following FEMA guidelines as it pertains to structures in flood ways. He told Winters to keep in mind that if the structure was currently occupied “we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
Board member Buddy Broome made a motion that the city give Wanzell another month to come back to the housing commission with a plan to either move the house or have it torn down. Winters seconded the motion and the commission voted to approve the action. Only Phillips voted against the measure.
Wanzell said that he was “fed up with it” and said he would comply with the housing commission’s directive.
Phillips warned the property owner that he “had a terrible track record” and wanted the issue resolved.
Phillips said the East Ridge Housing Commission would once again hear the matter at its next meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 12.