Hearing set in civil case regarding condition of downtown Fort Deposit buildings

Published 1:47 pm Thursday, July 20, 2017

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By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

The town of Fort Deposit is seeking a restraining order and fines against the Fort Deposit Arts Council and property owners Christopher and Sandra Robinson, Cornelius and Vanessa Thomas and Linda Hale regarding the condition of certain downtown buildings.

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And a hearing has been ordered in the matter in Lowndes County Circuit Court in Hayneville for Friday, July 28.

Fort Deposit attorney Arlene M. Richardson said the civil action was filed based upon “numerous complaints” from citizens. And Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell ordered the hearing in civil case 45-CV-2017-900035.00 to be held at the Lowndes County Courthouse at 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 28.

According to a copy of the complaint, the town of Fort Deposit, represented by Richardson, unless the court “grants an order restraining defendants from refusing to remove the buildings and debris, correct the nuisance and/or make their properties safe, it will cause immediate and irreparable to the Town and its citizens.”

In addition, the town of Fort Deposit additionally requests that the court impose a fine in accordance with a town of Fort Deposit Ordinance on each defendant as follows: Fort Deposit Arts Council in the amount of $ 10,683; Christopher Robinson and Sandra Robinson, jointly and severally, in the amount of $ 10,240; Cornelius and Vanessa Thomas, jointly and severally, in the amount of $ 11,230; and Linda Hale, in the amount of $10,630.

According to the complaint, the Arts Council owns certain downtown buildings which were described; defendants,’ Christopher Robinson and Sandra Robinson, residents of Lowndes County, jointly own the property known as Mr. Robinson’s old Barber Shop; defendants,’ Cornelius Thomas and Vanessa Thomas, residents of Lowndes County, jointly own property located in downtown Fort Deposit known as the old store; and defendant Linda Hale, a resident of Montgomery County, owns property located in downtown Fort Deposit, known as the 2nd building from the corner of Rogers and Pollard Street.

The complaint states, “Each of the buildings on defendants’ property has a common wall between them. One property cannot be cleaned without jeopardizing the integrity of the common walls.”

By way of timeline, according to the complaint, the town of Fort Deposit notified the defendants in March of 2014 that the properties had become a nuisance as defined by the ordinances of the town.

The town sent another letter in Nov. 2016 informing the defendants to clean and abate the nuisance on their properties and the amount of fines accrued since they failed to correct the nuisance.

And, “Since receiving the letters in 2014, the defendant’s property has become such a hazard that it may cause loss of life to persons who venture on or near the premises. The brick walls of the buildings are crumbling, the roofs have caved in, the floors have caved in exposing deep basements, there is debris, glass and other hazardous items scattered around the buildings and sidewalks.”

The complaint “prays that this court will issue an injunction enjoining the defendants jointly and severally to clean, remove debris and otherwise abate the nuisance on the properties subject to this action. Plaintiff further prays that upon a final hearing of this cause, the court will grant unto the plaintiff such other, further or different relief as may be just and proper in the premises, and costs.”

The Lowndes Signal reached out to Frieda Cross, president of the Fort Deposit Arts Council for comment, but she declined.