$100-per-day fines assessed on Cameo

Retroactive to missed deadline 28 days ago

Yet another chapter in the so-far endless saga of downtown Rockdale’s Cameo Building was written Monday when the city council unanimously okayed first-reading approval of continuing $100-per-day fines against its owner.

The council, meeting in regular session, also had a lively discussion of water issues (see separate story) and okayed a tax abatement for renovation at an auto dealership.

CAMEO— Only the walls, including its pink facade facing US 79, remain from the historic building which was damaged when a 125-year-old brick firewall collapsed Aug. 29-30, 2012.

The building has three times been condemned by the Building Standards Commission, and three times reprieved by the city council, most recently on July 8 when it delivered a set of deadlines to owner Gloria Thrasher.

Those i nvolved braci ng, securing and a 90-day order to demolish if the other deadlines were not met.

City Manager Kelvin Knauf said the facade bracing was not accomplished as specified by the city, no plan to restore the building was presented and the final deadline for demolition expired 28 days prior to Monday’s council session.

The council’s ordinance, upon second-reading approval at a later session, will impose the $100-per- day penalty retroactive to that deadline, making the assessment $2,800 as of Monday and noting the running total will increase by $100 each day until the building comes under compliance.

Knauf noted the process could eventually result in the building being razed and the owner billed for the demolition.

Monday’s action declares the structure—which has sidewalk barricades—“a hazard to public safety and health.”

Council member Joyce Dalley, who was instrumental in getting the building’s last reprieve in July, said she was “extremely disappointed” that the owner has not complied with the city’s orders.

“We’ve given them more time and more time and more time and they aren’t even here tonight,” Dalley said.

ABATEMENT—The council, following the lead of Milam County commissioners, approved a tax abatement plan for Miller-Starnes Chevrolet-Buick which is renovating its landmark Rockdale dealership at the corner of Cameron and Wilcox (US 79 and FM 487).

The abatement, identical to that agreed to by the county, shaves 60 percent of the taxes assessed on the renovation part only for the next two years.

In other business, the council:

• Okayed first-reading approval of a 13-cent-per bill cost-of-living adjustment increase in garbage collection rates from Progressive Waste Solutions. Knauf said a previous year’s adjustment was “absorbed” by the city—paid from other funds and not passed on to customers—but that increase also will show up on garbage collection bills.

• Okayed a $35 city swimming pool pass option.

• Sold a portion of city property at Green and Cameron (US 79) at the former Pounders service station to Judy Slusher for $450 plus “reasonable” legal fees.

• Assured Sho Nuff restaurant owners Dr. Dennis Brooks and Tony Brooks that sealing work would be done in the vicinity of the restaurant, Mulberry at First, to alleviate dust and mud problems. Knauf said parking problems would also be addressed.

• Named Judy Slusher and Georgia Richards as judges for the Dec. 21 east ward special city council election.

• Okayed an 8-foot rear setback variance to facilitate the Rockdale Volunteer Fire Department’s plans to install an awning at the RVFD Fire Station.

• Appointed Tom Loth to the MDD board on a unanimous vote.

• Re-appointed Richard Henderson, Trent Wages and James Early to the Building Standards Commission.

• On the recommendation of the Tourism Commit tee, approved an $8,000 request by the Rockdale Fair Association for advertising for the recently-completed 2013 Fair.

• Cast votes for Tim Arledge and Mike Vance for Mi lam Appraisal District directors.

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