Arlington and FBC owners formally notified

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 2, 2008

NATCHEZ — The owners of two historic Natchez properties considered to be under “demolition by neglect” have now been formally notified of the charge.

Arlington and First Baptist Church earned the title at a June 9 Preservation Commission meeting, but formal letters weren’t sent until recently.

The letter of notification to the owner of Arlington was sent July 23 and the church’s letter was sent out July 31.

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The owners now have 30 days to get a building permit from the city to correct what is causing the negligent demolition.

Building Inspector Paul Dawes said both letters are essentially the same.

“(They) basically described the things that were improper with the building, namely structural elements incapable of supporting the loads safely,” Dawes said.

He said both letters also point to where water, in both cases, has been allowed to enter the building, which is causing deterioration.

The letters request that open spaces on each building where the elements and vandals can enter be boarded up.

City Planner John “Rusty” Lewis said the ball for the process is rolling.

“We’ve satisfied the first step and the process will continue,” he said.

Arlington is owned by Dr. Tom Vaughan, who recently granted the Historic Natchez Foundation approval to cut the property’s grass and install security equipment.

The former First Baptist Church was purchased by Dream Homes Inc., in Marrero, La., and is to be turned into luxury condominiums.

As of Friday afternoon, neither owner had replied to the city.

If the 30 days expire with no response the owners will have to appear before the Natchez Preservation Commission for a hearing, according to the Natchez Preservation Ordinance.

After the hearing, if the commission sees that the buildings are still deteriorating due to neglect, the owners could face charges.