Politics & Government

Perry gas station targeted under blight code

PERRY -- Rotting wood and a metal beam are falling through the canopy of the former Perry Full Service gas station, which City Council agreed Tuesday night should be the first property addressed under its blight ordinance.

City Council members said Tuesday night they want the former Pure gas station at 1012 Main St. to be addressed by a hearing officer, who could consider the property owners’ concerns. City Manager Lee Gilmour proposed using a hearing officer -- potentially an attorney, to be selected at the next council meeting -- for the first use of the blight ordinance.

Gilmour said the property owner, Lunker Lake Development Co., of Montezuma, did not responded to a letter sent a month ago. The city could have skipped that step and simply asked the tax commissioner to increase the city’s tax rate on the property sevenfold.

Gilmour told The Telegraph the building is an older structure that had been allowed to decay without maintenance. County tax records show it was built in 1958.

Gilmour said the blight tax increases the owners’ costs of not taking action on decrepit buildings, giving them an incentive to rehabilitate or demolish the properties. Owners that remediate their properties essentially can get a refund of the blight tax as long as repairs meet city requirements.

It wasn’t immediately clear what repairs the former gas station would need. Council members worry the building, next to Evergreen Street and the county school board offices, may be unsafe.

Inside the gas station’s small office, fallen ceiling tiles press against the front window. Other falling pieces of ceiling were visible in the two car repair bays. The structure has several broken or missing windows as well as “no trespassing” signs. The damage is visible from the sidewalk. A tiny Christmas tree remains in the office, while Christmas lights ring the canopy over the two fuel pumps.

In other business Tuesday, the council voted to rename Fairview Drive to Ag Village Boulevard. Most of the properties on the street are vacant. The request was made by a developer who has two of the three businesses on the street, Gilmour said.

The council also agreed to seek bids for about $100,000 in upgrades to a sewer lift station and also agreed to finance about $650,000 worth of vehicles and related equipment.

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