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Arlington inspection for court-ordered work approaches

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez will be inspecting historic Arlington this week to determine if the recent court-ordered work done on the historic property is satisfactory.

Municipal Court Judge Pro Tem Tony Heidelberg said Arlington owner Tom Vaughan of Jackson paid his $1,000 fine last week and has been working at the property to clean it up.

The grass at the property has visibly been cut.

“The city will send a (code) enforcement officer to have a look at the property and see whether or not it’s suitable to be brought back to court or to the aldermen to vote to send city workers out there to clean it up,” Heidelberg said.

The next step for the court, Heidelberg said, is to evaluate the state of the house in approximately two months.

“That’s giving him enough time to explore his options of whatever he wants to do with the house,” he said.

Vaughan pleaded guilty to failure to maintain property in July.

If Vaughan does not bring the property up to code, the court granted the City of Natchez authority to contract with a third-party company to clean up the property. The city can spend $20,000, which Vaughan will have to pay.

The $20,000 allotment for labor costs is the maximum amount allowed for one year according to Mississippi statute 21-19-11, Heidelberg said.

After the property is cleaned up, the city will be allowed to submit that bill to the court, Heidelberg said. He said the court likely would assess a 50-percent penalty on top of that, which would mean an additional $10,000 penalty on top of the $20,000 clean-up charge.

The city can clean the lot up to six times in the one-year period, according to the statute.

Arlington was built between 1816 and 1821 and is located at 1320 John A. Quitman Blvd.

The Arlington house suffered severe fire damage, which destroyed the roof and the second floor in September 2002. The Historic Natchez Foundation installed a roof on the house shortly after the fire, but no other work has been done to protect the house from weather or vandalism.

The house was named the second most endangered historic property in Mississippi by the Mississippi Heritage Trust in 2009.

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