Abatement proceedings have begun on a Pacific builder who has been told he can’t proceed with a building he started to construct at 212 East Congress St. because officials say it is in violation of floodplain regulations.
The action was discussed in closed session at the April 3 board meeting and voted on in open session. It passed unanimously, 4-0, with Aldermen Mike Bates and Brad Reed absent.
In the same meeting a new nuisance-abatement ordinance was read twice, making it effective immediately, granting the mayor the power to hold abatement hearings that can require vacating property where illegal activity is taking place.
In this case it will require tearing down the building if the owner cannot produce the correct remedy.
Jimmy Smith, who operates J. Smith Properties, 6881 Thornton Road, received building permits in May 2011 to remodel a 24-foot by 30-foot existing garage and add a pole barn behind the garage at the Congress Street address.
After part of the old structure collapsed, Smith received additional permits to remodel the structure and he began to add new construction. Some officials complained that new construction was illegally taking place in a floodplain.
In July FEMA and city officials visited the site and determined that the new construction is in a floodplain.
In August authorities ordered Smith to cease construction until he could produce a “No Rise” certificate from a certified engineer, guaranteeing that the construction would not create flood problems on adjoining property.
“That is still the goal,” Mayor Herb Adams said. “When I asked for power to begin abatement proceedings I made it clear to aldermen that I want to be consistent. From the beginning my intention has been to correct the measure not to punish Mr. Smith.”
On several occasions Smith has said that he was working on procuring a “No Rise” certificate for the building but he said it was costly and timely.
If he can produce the certificate the building will be allowed to remain. If he cannot produce it, it will have to be torn down, the mayor said.
In the meeting, the mayor said aldermen had two options in dealing with the building: Begin abatement proceedings or send the matter to the municipal court. Aldermen opted to begin abatement proceedings.
Smith will be notified in writing with an explanation of the abatement and hearing process.