Friday, March 22, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-03-22 18:23:48)
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
Editor's note: Mark Robinson, Newport Planning Director/Building, Zoning and Code Compliance Official, was given the opportunity to respond to Janice Cureton's letter to the editor.
The corner of Main Street and 321N remains the same after 12 years. What an eyesore! About 12 years ago, there was a florist in business there briefly. Why has this property owner not been made to repair, restore and re-fresh that group of empty buildings? The city did force the local beer joints to clean up. Why not this property also? This is just unacceptable for the Cocke County residents. How depressing it is to travel this road and witness the "decaying" downtown of Newport. If the property is not repaired then it should be condemned and torn down.
The two-story building referenced being on the corner of Main Street and McMahan has been vacant for several years. The owner lives out of town. The city has discussed the building with the owner, even trying to negotiate possible purchase, but the owners are not inclined to sell. Recently, a car went through the front window, damaging the floor structure. The owner informed me that he had an engineer review the structure and found the building to be safe. The front glass and framing have been replaced as well as floor timbers. The owner has no plans for this building to date. Vacant buildings do need to be maintained.
The other four buildings along Main Street between McMahan and Woodlawn Avenue, including two vacant properties, are being acquired soon and will be demolished. The new Library/Convention Center/Museum is planned to be a draw for commerce downtown. The city is endeavoring to resolve the old vacant building complaints. The process takes time. Legal issues need resolve. Buildings with history and character need to be saved when possible. A property owner needs to look at the cost of renovation versus what he will end up with. Most of these vacant buildings are for sale.
The former florist shop building has been condemned, and the owner was asked to renovate or demolish. The city is acquiring these six properties and demolition will begin soon.
Cocke County citizens should encourage our county to adopt the Building/Residential/Fire/Plumbing/Mechanical Codes for your safety and that of your neighbors. The county can choose to not charge any fee for a building permit or for inspections required.
Newport Planning Director/Building, Zoning, and Codes Compliance Official
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