By KENDRA MAHON
For the Williamson Daily News
Williamson resident Rick Wilkerson, a former councilman, voiced his concern over the number of abandoned and dilapidated houses in his neighborhood on Vinson Street during Thursday night's Williamson City Council meeting.
Wilkerson said one building fell on June 10. He cited a city ordinance from his time as a councilman as the basis for his argument. The ordinance states that the owner of any property "deemed unsafe by the Unsafe Building Committee can be fined and held liable for the cost incurred by the clean- up of the said property."
During his presentation, Wilkerson accused the city council of not doing anything about the issue because of the location of the properties. "I am sure if this was in the city in the downtown area, something would be done," Wilkerson said.
Mayor Charlie Hatfield said he disagreed with that statement, citing the presence of upward of 200 dilapidated buildings within the city and Councilman Randy Price had a large number in his ward in East End.
Williamson Fire Chief Joey Carey, who also serves as the city's building inspector, also responded to Wilkerson's remarks, by first pointing out the Unsafe Building Committee was abolished several years ago. He said that was while the former fire chief was still at the department.
Carey told Wilkerson he knew what needed to be done and he was working on it. He said the issue falls under part of the planning and zoning ordinance the city has been working on.
"New legislation went into effect in 2018 that will give the city attorney and the city judge more ability to do a lot more than they used to be able to do," said Carey.
Hatfield assured Wilkerson the city would address the problem of abandoned and unsafe buildings, but it would take time and financial resources.
The next regular council meeting is set for 5 p.m. Thursday, June 27.
Kendra Mahon is a freelance writer for the Williamson Daily News.