Vacant houses worry residents

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 26, 2008

NATCHEZ — An extensive discussion on vacant houses in the Woodlawn area took place at the Natchez Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night.

Valencia Hall, a resident in this area, came before the board with concerns that vacant houses in the area are encouraging illegal activity.

Drug dealing and using and young children, between the ages of 8 and 9 at the youngest, wandering the street late at night are a few issues she believes stem from these houses.

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Hall, coming as a representative for her neighborhood watch committee, presented the board with photographs of the vacant houses.

“We’re tired of this in our neighborhood and we want you to do something about it,” she said.

Mayor Phillip West said this is a concern of the board’s and they hope to find a solution to it.

“To eliminate this problem, it’s going to take a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of resources,” he said, although believing it can be done.

Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins said that these vacant houses are a problem and they police station is doing its best to patrol the area to keep illegal activities at bay.

Alderman Theodore “Bubber” West brought up that a few years back, a nuisance ordinance was adopted and a budget was set up to deal with these types of houses.

Any house that posed to be a nuisance or threat­, like these houses do, could be boarded up using money from a $50,000 budget, he said.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis and Alderman Ricky Gray also made requests to have houses in their wards considered under this ordinance.

Alderman West made a motion to have City Building Inspector Paul Dawes, Fire Chief Paul Johnson, Interim City Planner Walter Huston and Mullins to identify and begin boarding up these houses and to report back to the board with their progress in two weeks.

The motion was accepted.

In other business, Mayor West requested that the board authorize City Engineer David Gardner to begin accepting bids on resurfacing the four major arteries– St. Catherine, Homochitto, Martin Luther King Jr. and East Franklin streets.

West said if they get the $1.5 million they requested from the state legislature to overlay these streets, that they should be ready to move forward immediately.

“It’s time for us to just make something happen,” West said.

He said he is hopeful the city will get the money from the legislature, but if not, he believes there are other options.

Gardner made an announcement that work is being done to draft the phases of the North Natchez Project that will fix drainage issues on Buckners Alley.

Eloise Trask, Natchez resident, asked for an appeal on a decision made by the planning commission denying her request to put a mobile home on her property at 108 Shaw St.

Her appeal was approved with a 3-2 vote.

The Alpha and Omega Stompers, a Christian group comprised of young children, visited the board and gave a performance.