City of Copperas Cove abates burned-down property on North Main

Cove Leader-Press 

Last Sunday evening, Jan. 2, Copperas Cove firefighters responded to a house on fire at 606 N. Main St.
By Friday morning, city’s work crews from Code Compliance and Solid Waste were busily demolishing the remains of the structure as well as removing the debris leftover from the fire, as well as what was left behind by those who had been living on the property. 
The cause of the fire is still undetermined. A prior fire in September 2021 was ruled as arson, with one woman arrested for that charge. 
The action on Friday by the city is what’s called abatement, and there is a process to “cleaning up” properties such as this one. 
“An abatement takes place only after due process has been followed and all other methods to obtain voluntary compliance have been exhausted. Currently, the City only abates vacant properties. The owner of a property in violation must be notified and allowed a specified amount of time, dependent on the type of violation, to have the opportunity to bring their property into compliance voluntarily,” said Brandy Varner, Code Compliance Supervisor. 
“In this case, no surviving relatives have stepped forward to take ownership or responsibility of the property, so Code Compliance moved forward to perform the necessary abatement. As stated in our City abatement contract, the scope of work was limited to removing, ‘All large piles of grass clippings, trash, filth, rubbish, garbage, refuse, or other impure matter shall be bagged and removed from the property and disposed of by approved methods in accordance with the law.’”
At this point, what happens in the future to this property is not known, as the City of Copperas Cove does not own it. When the lien is placed on the property, it will include all costs the City incurred for abatement services.
In June 2021, the 606 N. Main St. property was used as an example of numerous code violations during a Copperas Cove city council workshop. At that time, Deputy Police Chief Brian Wyers told the council that the property owner is deceased and the person living on the property is a relative, who had been cited for a total of six violations between December 2020 and June 2021, and was been arrested for those citations and is out on bond. 
The house is one of a number of structures in Copperas Cove with code compliance issues, and Wyers told the council that it would be an additional $40,000 or $50,000 added to the city’s Code Compliance budget to abate these types of issues. 
“I don’t want to come here and tell council that it can’t be done because there is law that allows us to do that, but I’m telling you with our current budget that’s not something that we can do.”
After Friday’s demolition and cleanup, the total of the lien is pending and yet to be determined, said Varner. 
Although residents may see other properties that are burned-out and uninhabitable – such as the burned-out structure in the 1100 block of Randa Street, where two separate fires occurred in 2019 – the City of Copperas Cove is not at liberty to go onto private property such as those and “clean them up” until abatement has occurred. The Randa Street property remains standing and burned-out to this date.

Copperas Cove Leader Press

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