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City to evacuate unsafe apartments
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The city continues to crackdown on unsanitary and unsafe housing, and some unlicensed apartments on Lunsford Circle in Covington are scheduled to be evacuated Thursday.

Covington's Assistant Fire Marshal Tony Smith said the multi-person housing units at 3220 Lunsford Circle are unsafe because they don't have: appropriate fire walls between the units, a sprinkler system, smoke detectors or an evacuation plan posted on the premises.

Structures fall under the jurisdiction of the fire department - and must have the above components - if they have three or more separate units, Smith said.

In addition, Covington code enforcement officer Jim Berry said the apartments are unsanitary. One resident has been living on the premises for years without utilities, including water and sewer.

Berry already condemned two other units on the property. He said he sent a letter to property owner Denny Horne in January because of litter on the property. The Covington Police Department also had cases of prostitution and illegal drugs on the property, Berry said.

Horne, who owns White Cotton Properties, has refused to make any changes to the structures, and Berry and Smith will argue the case Wednesday in the city's municipal court. They fully expect the judge to agree with their assessment and notified current residents that eviction was likely to occur Thursday.

"We don't feel it's fair to evacuate without any notice; we like to give them a little bit of time, and we encouraged Mr. Horne to give the residents notice," Smith said Friday. "The situation is sad all the way round. We're not in the business of putting people out of their homes, but we are in business of protecting lives."

Smith said he will try to help residents find other places to live if they don't have ready alternatives. If Horne had been willing to make the improvements the city would have worked with him, but because he refused they decided they needed to take immediate action. After residents are evacuated, the units will be boarded up, Smith said.

After that, Horne can either make the necessary changes for a multi-unit structure and get an appropriate license to operate an apartment complex/boarding house, or he can remodel the structure so it only has two units and; therefore, would have lesser requirements.

Any residents who don't have any prepaid rent reimbursed would be able to file a civil suit, Smith said.

The evacuation follows the early August evacuation of the boarding house at 2114 Clark St., Covington. In that case, Smith said they gave owner Ricky Mock several months to make renovations, but he did not make the changes until after the evacuation.

"As we find these structures, we do them one at a time," Smith said. "I don't know where we'll go from here, but I know there are several other structures.

"People may ask why we're forcing people out, but if a fire would break out (and cause excessive damage), then someone would ask didn't the fire marshal take care of this."