City gets wrong address at property adjudication attempt

Published 2:23 pm Thursday, February 29, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez was left with egg on its face after a public hearing on Tuesday night turned out to have been set for the wrong property.

When necessary, the city holds public hearings during meetings of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen. The mayor’s administration has focused on making the cleanup of dilapidated properties a priority to the point of hiring a code enforcement officer. Officer Diawardrick Grover is charged with enforcing the city’s codes and handles the administration of adjudicating property. He works within the Natchez Police Department.

The adjudication process begins when property is deemed to be dilapidated or a hazard to the safety of residents or neighbors. That process allows the city to legally go on the property to make the necessary improvements or demolish it.

Email newsletter signup

Residents can follow links on the city’s website to report property they feel is in poor condition or a danger to others.

“Adjudication allows the city to take the proper legal steps to address the situation and charge the property owner with any costs that the city and taxpayers bear as a result,” said Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson.

However, on Tuesday the process went awry when it turned out the city had the wrong address on a property.

The resident at 102 Kennedy received notification from the city that the property was being adjudicated for a downed fence and trees and bushes growing over it.

Rafael Ayala said the owner of the property, his cousin, lives in Kentucky, but he received the letter, which he said was meant for his neighbor at 100 Kennedy.

“That’s not my house,” Ayala said, when a photo was displayed of the house in question.

Ayala received an apology from Gibson.

“We have the wrong house. It appears there has been a misunderstanding,” Gibson said. “We are grateful you came in.”

The process will begin anew for the property at 100 Kennedy, city officials said.

Also on the adjudication list on Tuesday night was property at 411 Oakland St.

It was cited by the city for have a shed on which a tree had fallen that needed to be torn down, as well as excessive overgrowth on the property.

Matthew Evans, son of owner of the property, Mary J. Evans, said it was a neighbor’s tree that fell on the shed, destroying it.

City Attorney Jack Lazarus told Evans regardless it is on his property and his responsibility to clean up.

Mandy Adams, also Mary J. Evans’ daughter who lives in the home, said they have been cleaning up the property since receiving notification from the city of the adjudication.

The city voted to adjudicate the property, but that process, which will likely take a month to complete, will not go forward if the property is cleaned beforehand.