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Posted: February 18, 2014 9:00 p.m.

City demolishing substandard housing

The city looks a little cleaner these days, as some of its worst homes have been torn down in recent years.

The city has torn down 109 units, including single-family homes and some multi-unit structures, over the past four years in its ongoing effort to clean up neighborhoods, code enforcement officer Jim Berry told the Covington City Council Monday.

Berry said many homes, which had become structurally unstable and would have cost more to repair than tear down, were either voluntarily torn down by the property owners or demolished by the city, which then put liens on the properties to eventually recoup their cost.

He said homes or buildings that had occupational safety issues – such as people living with no utilities – but not structural issues, were boarded up to prevent people from living in them.

City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said Tuesday the city has budgeted more than $100,000 in some years for the demotion of substandard housing and said that funding will probably need to continue for years to come if the city wants to continue addressing its substandard housing issues.

One of the most prominent cases was that of Jack Moser, who had lived in the Covington Mill neighborhood off Sorrells Street for years without utilities and limited public contact.

His house was recently torn down.

Berry said Moser, who refused to acknowledge the existence of the city of Covington and was eventually arrested on charges of obstructing law enforcement, is in a nursing home after undergoing evaluations and has been set up to receive Social Security.

The property is now vacant, but Moser’s family still owns the property.

Councilman Chris Smith said at Tuesday’s council retreat that the residents in the area had asked if the lot, which had formerly been called the infamous "kudzu house" could be turned into a public park. He said there were so many liens on the house from the city that nobody would ever want to buy the property for private use.

When asked, City Attorney Ed Crudup said the city could potentially foreclose on the liens and take possession of the property.

The council agreed to explore possible options with the property.

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