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Adjudicated, blighted property eyed by city

In the unlikely event that the management of adjudicated property would become a problem, the city administration has a solution.
At its regular June meeting (Monday, June 12), the city council voted unanimously — with Curtrese Minix absent — to authorize Mayor Charles “Chuck” Robichaux to enter in a professional services agreement with CivicSource.
Ronnie Harris, director of business development, was at the June 12 meeting to explain the concept to the council.
“There’s no contract; the city can cancel the agreement at any time; and the city is completely indemnified,” Harris said.
CivicSource handles the title search and notification process for all properties it handles at no cost to the city.
Billed as “the leading auctioneer of tax-distressed real estate,” New Orleans-based CivicSource, since 2008, has sold 1,384 pieces of adjudicated property for $21 million.
“And about 23 percent of the time, those families that ‘could never get together’ (to settle inherited property title issues), actually get together,” Harris said.
“What we’re doing is, we’re putting this property back into service for tax revenue for the city,” he explained.
Mark Daigle, city inspector, reported that, to date, the city has only one parcel of adjudicated property.
Under the ongoing demolition program, Daigle had recommended to the city that the building at 714 Holt St. be condemned and an order issued for its demolition.
However, the property owner, Magnolia Hollier, appeared before the council saying that she has been trying “for four or five years” to refurbish the former store to use as a youth center to tutor students.
A mathematician and former math teacher, Hollier went on to say that she has already spent “thousands of dollars” on materials, “but it all seems to walk.”
Daigle, a former contractor, explained that, in his opinion, it would be less expensive for Hollier to tear down the existing building and build a smaller, new facility than to bring the existing building up to code.
“There’s a lot of termite damage and holes in the roof, plus, for a facility like that, you’re going to have to be handicapped accessible, meet fire marshal codes and everything else,” Daigle said.
“And it’s in a flood zone, so it would have to be elevated to city code,” he added.
The council voted to give Hollier one month to come up with a comprehensive plan to bring the building to code.
The matter will be reconsidered in July, at which time a decision on whether to allow reconstruction or to demolish will be made.
In other action, the council:
• announced firework hours for the Fourth of July. Fireworks will be allowed inside the city limits from July 1 through July 5, until 9 p.m. each night with the exception of July 4, when the discharge of fireworks will be allowed until midnight.
• appointed The Rayne Acadian-Tribune as the official journal for fiscal year 2017-18;
• authorized Robichaux to sign an reciprical intergovernmental agreement with the Acadia Parish School board for facilty or facility usage;
• accepted the resignation of David Lalande, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and appointed Jerry Bergeron to the board;
• approved the donation of a surplus police cruiser to the Erath Police Department;
• tabled the request for a liquor permit for Joubert Palace owner Lillian B. Senegal, 400 N. McGown St.; and
• heard from Nita McCall concerning increased drainage problems in the area of Edith Street.

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