Grantville may demolish two properties owned by town's Mayor Sells

Two properties owned by Mayor Jim Sells may be demolished after the Grantville City Council voted in his absence to move forward with the process.
In March 2011, Sells applied for a Certificate of Appropriateness for the demolition of a home at 99 LaGrange St., located in the town’s Historic District. The Grantville Historic Preservation Commission granted the request on March 24, 2011, and gave Sells six months to begin work on the demolition. No progress has been made, according to Mayor Pro-Tem Selma Coty.
“When we asked why he had not done it, he cited financial reasons,” said Coty, who presided over the council’s Monday meeting. Council members Barham Lundy and Rochelle Jabaley completed the council’s necessary quorum.
Coty brought the matter before the council, requesting the LaGrange Street property and another belonging to Sells be inspected for possible demolition. The second property, a house on 194 Roger Arnold Road, was the site of a December 2010 fire that claimed the lives of children. Coty’s agenda request indicated the burned home has remained in disrepair since the fire, and she asked the council to move ahead with an inspection and report to determine if the house can be saved.
“We voted not to demolish the homes, but to have them inspected to see if they need to be demolished,” Coty said.
Sells was absent from Monday’s meeting. A source confirmed he was on vacation.

“It’s not a question of whether he was (at the meeting), it’s a question of why he did not address our concerns in a reasonable period of time,” Coty said.

Sells had ample notice that the condition of his properties would be brought before the council, according to Coty, who missed the deadline for the March 25 meeting but said she sent the information to Sells and the rest of the council. Another property which Coty had intended to bring before the council March 25, a home at 402 Stokes St., drew a complaint which was turned over to City Manager Johnny Williams.

The council voted Monday to accept Williams’ recommendation that the city arrange for immediate demolition of the Stokes Street property, which was deemed unsafe by the city last June. Coty said that on April 2 she notified all council members, including Sells, of her intention to bring the LaGrange Street and Roger Arnold Road properties before the council April 9.

During the meeting, Royce Bemis asked the council to in the future consider allowing the property owners to be present to defend themselves during such a vote.

Coty said a public hearing may be necessary once the inspections are complete, and that Sells will have ample opportunity to speak before the matter is concluded.

“Hopefully we’ll have something on the agenda by the next meeting,” Coty said.

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