BY SARAH R. GREGORY
The Town of Greeneville's Standard Review Board decided Thursday to allow a local property owner 30 days to secure a demolition permit and another 30 days to demolish a house on West Main Street deemed unfit for human habitation.
The Standard Review Board is a newly-formed body, comprised of local citizens knowledgeable and trained in matters regarding property maintenance and construction.
Members of the board are Chairman Brett Purgason, Dave Wright, Mike Idell, Jerry Smith, Tom Hite and Bob Biddle.
The board has been given the duty of holding hearings concerning properties deemed unfit for human occupancy by the Town's Building Inspector.
After a structure is deemed unfit for occupancy and notice has been served on the property owner, a hearing is scheduled before the Standard Review Board.
If repair of the structure cannot be made at a reasonable cost -- not to exceed 50 percent of the premises' value -- the owner may be required to remove or demolish the structure.
If an order to repair is made and the owner fails to comply, the Town's Building Department may have the structure repaired or vacated and closed.
If the property owner does not act and the Town initiates repairs or demolition, a lien can then be placed against the property in the office of the Greene County Register of Deeds.
The lien would allow the cost of repairs or demolition to be collected in the same manner as property taxes.
At Thursday's meeting, members of the Standard Review Board determined that the property at 1121 W. Main St. could not be repaired at a reasonable cost.
Prior to the meeting, board members traveled to the property to inspect it in person.
Building Inspector Jeff Woods said that his recommendation was to have the structure demolished.
"I feel, as a building official, that the only option he [the owner] has is to tear down the property," Woods said. "I don't think it's repairable."
Architect Dave Wright said that, in his estimation, the cost of bringing the structure up to code would be more than the just over $16,000 total appraised value of the property.
"I think the cost to repair would exceed the property's worth," he said, adding, "there's no question."
Wright noted that the maximum limit for requiring that a property be repaired rather than demolished is whether the needed repairs would cost no more than 50 percent of the property's value.
He added that that requirement would mean in this case that the property on West Main Street would have to be repairable, and could be brought up to code for no more than $8,000. He said he did not think that was possible.
"You'd spend at least that to try to get it stabilized," he said.
"I think from a property owner's standpoint, the property is worth a whole lot, but more with the building gone than just sitting there like it is."
Board alternate Bob Biddle made a motion to give the property owner, Jimmie N. Seaton, 30 days to secure a demolition permit.
The motion also stated that, after a demolition permit is secured, Seaton would have 30 days to have the structure demolished.
Woods said that he felt the Town had given Seaton "every opportunity to clean the property up or tear the structure down."
The Town has been dealing with the property since November 2012, when Seaton was first sent a letter about the condition of the structure, Woods told the board.
Woods said Seaton responded to the initial letter, indicating he intended to submit a letter with a plan of action for the property to get permits and bring the structure up to code.
"He never came in and pulled the permits," Woods said.
After the Town received a number of calls from neighbors concerned about homeless individuals coming in and out of the property, Seaton was sent a second letter in January of this year, Woods said.
That letter, Woods added, did not receive a response, and a notice was posted at the location, deeming the structure uninhabitable.
In September, Woods said, a registered letter was sent to Seaton, again with no response.
Seaton did not appear at the hearing to discuss the matter with the board.
NEXT MEETING DEC. 5
Discussion about the property and action taken against it was brief, with the entire meeting lasting only 15 minutes.
Board members quickly agreed that Seaton should be given 30 days to secure a permit for demolition and another 30 days to have the work carried out.
If no response is received within 30 days, action should be taken, for safety reasons, to seal the property and prevent anyone from entering it, board members agreed.
Because 30 business days falls near the Thanksgiving holiday, the board decided to push their next meeting back a week until Dec. 5, effectively giving Seaton an additional week to respond.
Woods said another registered letter would be sent to Seaton on Monday.
The building inspector said that, if the property owner does not act, the Town has the equipment needed to demolish the structure and haul away the debris.
However, it would have to be determined if asbestos is present. If it is, Woods explained, because of the hazardous material, the work would require a plan of action different from routine demolition.