TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

November 7, 2013

Property owner asks city council to drop suit against him

CORBIN — By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer

A property owner asked the London City Council to drop its lawsuit against him during Monday’s city council meeting.

Doug Benge, a London attorney who owns the property at 213 East Fourth Street, made the request after the city made a move to file a lawsuit to take the property through an ordinance that allows the city to seize blighted properties through eminent domain.

Council members were told by Benge that he had hired a reputable private firm to inspect the property and the building was deemed structurally sound. He assured the council he doesn’t intend for anyone to live in the house and that it has been secured to prevent anyone from breaking into it. He also said the building is insured.

“It’s not going to fall at this present time,” Benge said.

Council members discussed their concerns about the property, including a crack you can see through and missing handrails on a set of steps.

When asked about the possibility of razing the building, Benge said it was cost prohibitive. He had obtained a quote for $18,000 to tear down the building.

Benge admitted to council members the property is unattractive, but said there are two other nearby properties that are also eyesores.

The city of London did request that Benge send a certified letter to London city Building Inspector Doug Gilbert or city attorney Larry Bryson indicating his intentions to not use the building for residential purposes or as a storage building. Benge did not comply with this request.

Benge asked the city to end its lawsuit. After some discussion, a the council voted to stop the lawsuit.

The council also approved appointments to the city’s newly-formed London Tourism and Convention Commission. The appointments, as recommended by Mayor Troy Rudder, are Bill Dezarn and Sharon Cornelius, who represent the city of London; Troy House, who represents the Chamber of Commerce; Holly Little, Mackie Williams, and Jason Handy, who represent the city’s hotels and motels; and Judy Barnett, who represents the city’s restaurants.

The appointments follow an August decision by the council to create a tourism commission for the city separate from the Laurel County tourism commission.

Rudder said no initial meeting date has been set for the city’s tourism commission.

The council also approved a proposal from London Radio Service, Inc. to continue providing service to the city.

Bryson told the council that although the company had worked with the city for many years, no proposal for those services could be located. He recommended the city review its proposals for such services at least every three years — a standard he said the state auditor’s office would probably prefer.

Bryson also said the city must disclose the owner of London Radio Service Inc., who is Stewart Walker, because Walker is employed by the city as its chief of police.

The proposals were requested in the wake of a media report that criticized the city’s relationship with London Radio Service Inc., which sells radios and equipment to the city fire department, police station, and rescue squad. The company’s association with the city pre-dates Stewart’s appointment as police chief.

After the city requested proposals from different radio services, the only proposal received was from London Radio Service Inc.

In other business:

—Joe Smith was re-appointed for the London/Laurel County Communications.

—Dane Gilpin was re-appointed for the Planning Commission Board.

—P.J. Burnett was approved as a Kentucky Sate Police Captain.

—The properties of 1869, 1871, 1864, 1868, and 1867 North Mill Street in London were all re-zoned from residential to commercial property.

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