A public hearing to gather input on the possibility of introducing a nuisance ordinance to McCreary County yielded little results Saturday as less than 20 citizens appeared to voice their opinions on the matter.
Judge Executive Doug Stephens opened the meeting by stating the Fiscal Court did not have an agenda pursuing the possible ordinance, but only wanted to get a feel of what the public thought.
Magistrate Jason Mann explained any ordinance would only have language dealing with unsafe structures, and would not include language pertaining to grass length, vehicles or other similar items.
The meeting was instigated after Magistrate Mann inquired in a recent Fiscal Court meeting regarding what could be done about abandoned and/ or deteriorated houses and buildings in the county.
The debate centered around two viewpoints: personal rights and property values.
Daniel Perry was the first citizen to speak, noting people have a right to do what they want with their property, and any disputes could be settled between property owners in a court of law, if needed.
He also advocated placing the ordinance on a ballot so the entire public could vote on the issue.
Sharon Nelson spoke about the potential dangers with abandoned buildings, noting children could get injured playing in them. She also voiced concern about the affect they have on property values.
Troy Lumley, a member of the South McCreary Fire Department stated he had researched the issue and discovered several Kentucky ordinances already on the books that would allow a local fire chief to condemn a building, leading to the possibility of the County intervening by removing the structure and placing a lien on the property to recoup the costs.
County Attorney Conley Chaney read through the documents provided by Lumley, and said it appeared that the laws are already in place.
PVA Bruce Lominac stated there were only about 100 buildings in the County that could potentially be considered abandoned.
Local businessman J.C. Egnew stated outside investors see abandoned houses as a negative when looking to locate into a location, a sentiment echoed by Diana Bybee who stated she had spoken to potential businesses who balked at locating to McCreary County due to lack of zoning regulations.
Magistrate Leroy “O.L.” Perry said he had received a lot of negative comments from his constituents about the possible ordinance, and stated both Magistrate Roger Phillips and Magistrate Duston Baird had told him that they had heard similar complaints.
Judge Stephens said the conversation about what the community wants in order to improve needed to be started.
“We can’t do things the same way if we want to be different,” he said.
The meeting closed after comments by John Beams, a property owner whose house on Main Street was referenced as a need for such a law.
Beams stated he pays his property taxes on the land, and the issue is between him and the property owners adjacent to the house. He added the property is listed for sale, but he had not yet received a fair offer for the land.