ARMA — Owners of a residence targeted for condemnation by the city received a 90-day extension to make progress toward cleaning up the property and and making improvements to the home on West Washington Street.
The Arma City Council on Monday night told family members representing absentee property owner Michael Everly of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, they had until early April to cleanup the property at 215 West Washington St., make improvements to the structure and substantially reduce the outstanding city utility bill with a balance of more than $1,700.
Mayor Buddy Bualle said the property has been a long-standing source of complaints from residents. While council members want to work with the owners and family members, the city's first responsibility is to property owners and residents, he said.
"We have to protect the city's interest," Bualle said.
Councilman Dick Cleland echoed Bualle's comments.
"We've caught nothing but grief from residents on this property," Cleland said.
Complaints have ranged from residents saying a huge brush pile on the property was the home for rodents to complaints about uncut grass that has gotten as high as three-feet tall, he said.
City officials also cited a hole in the roof, broken glass in windows and downed power lines leading to the home as sources drawing the ire of Arma residents. Bualle said the city will give the owner until early April to make improvements and clean up the property.
Part of the agreement stipulates that a minimum of $1,000 be paid toward the outstanding utility bill and that progress be made on improvements so it does not continue to be a nuisance and eyesore, Bualle said.
"If no progress is made we'll move forward with condemnation," Bualle said. "We want to see the home cleaned up, repaired and occupied — but it's got to be safe."
In other business, the council:
• Authorized Police Chief Howard Camp to move forward with filling a full-time vacancy on the force created when he was promoted to chief. Camp is to report back to the council with a recommendation on filling the position.
• Heard Bualle report the city finished 2015 with an improved fiscal position by taking in about $150,000 more in revenue than it spent.
• Heard a report from Camp indicating the police force responded to more than 2,000 calls in 2015, including everything from animal nuisance calls to assisting other agencies. Camp said in 2016 he wants to focus on dealing with a review of city ordinances.
• Received a request from Bualle for council members to get him a list of what they want to see as city priorities in 2016. He said he will compile those recommendations and work with the council on prioritizing the goals, and:
• Voiced pleasure to Camp and the police department with in improvements seen in the police department and with the improved attitude and morale of officers.
The next council meeting is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Arma Fire Station instead of the regular meeting location at city hall.
— Mike Elswick is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.