SIKESTON - Things aren't moving as fast as hoped, but action from the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority appears to be right around the corner.
Mike Bohannon, LCRA Board chairman, said during the Board's regular meeting Monday that he has been faced with the question: "Why is nothing being done?"
In February, the Board picked a list of houses to target for acquisition and demolition with the intention of picking another 30 each month. "We're yet to even be anywhere near ready for demolition of these 32 houses," Bohannon said.
David Crader, attorney for the LCRA, explained that for the LCRA to proceed, it must make fair and reasonable offers on the properties it has targeted for acquisition, but can not do so until it has the appraisals. "I don't know what the holdup has been," he said.
Earlier in the meeting, the Board approved a payment of $1,890 to Mont Mitchell of Sikeston for appraisals on 14 of 32 properties contracted. Crader said Mitchell promised the remaining appraisals would be ready by Friday, at which time he will mail out the LCRA's offers.
Board members also approved a payment of $4,500 to SEMO Title of Sikeston for title commitments on 30 properties. Two more are being checked for legal descriptions.
Once the fair market value is determined by the appraisal, the cost of demolition is estimated and figured in to arrive at a residual value for the cleaned-up lot, according to Crader. This does not include any liens or delinquent taxes owed on the property.
The LCRA will use this amount for its offers. Property owners will have 30 days to voluntarily accept the offer and convey the title before facing condemnation proceedings from the LCRA.
The LCRA's condemnation process includes the formation of a commission which determines the value of the property and arranges for transfer of the title. "I can see this as a 90-day process," Crader predicted, "if there is no voluntary conveyance."
Ideas to speed the process were discussed by the Board including sending the letters with offers for voluntary conveyance as soon as appraisals come in or splitting up the appraisals between several appraisers.
The Board was also surprised with an in-person update on the LCRA's Community Development Block Grant application from James Robnett, CDBG coordinator for Missouri. If the grant is approved, the CDBG funding would be used to tear down the old First Baptist Church on Kingshighway and a couple houses.
Robnett confirmed the Board should receive notification on the award of the grant in about two weeks.
He also advised that before CDBG funds can be used to tear down a building, it must have environmental clearance for any historical effect the demolition might have.
Following an environmental review, it will either be determined that "no historical adverse effect" would result from the building's demolition, or that a record process such as taking pictures of historically significant elements must be followed.
* Trey Hardy, the city's community redevelopment coordinator, presented the Board with a list of another 50 vacant houses in various states of disrepair to target for acquisition, one of which has already been offered to the LCRA voluntarily.
Included on the list is the date utilities were discontinued if applicable. "Seven still have power on," Hardy said.
Hardy also advised the Board of a couple houses on the first list that are reportedly being refurbished by the owners.
"If they step up, start doing something, we'll look," said Bohannon.
* The Board approved advising the City Council they would like to move the LCRA target area's western border from Malcolm to Welter and its southern border from Murray Lane to Butler.
* Bohannon said he was pleased by the sight of "a bunch of young men, young women out at 8 a.m. ready to go to work" as part of the Business Research Institute program which employees Sikeston youth to mow LCRA-owned lots.
Matt Marshall of BRI said he has been "overwhelmed by the enthusiasm."
"I think it's a great program," Marshall said, "a great idea to get the youth involved."
Marshall reported getting another 20 youth interested in participating.
* The Board will meet for a special meeting scheduled for noon July 12 to follow up on the CDBG application and appraisals.