KIMBALL, Tenn. - For nine months, city leaders have been trying to come up with a solution for a small piece of property at 120 Raulston Cove Road that includes a rundown house.
Originally, administrators hoped to buy the property and build a small playground or picnic area on it, but they have been unable to work out a deal with the mortgage holder.
City Attorney Billy Gouger said in January that it is not possible to build another structure on the property "under the current regulatory system."
Vice Mayor Rex Pesnell said last week that the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen should consider demolishing the home and cleaning up the property.
"It's the same thing as [the city] going and mowing someone else's yard and attaching a lien to the property," he said. "I was wondering if we could pay for the demolition and cleanup of the property, and then attach that as a lien on the property."
Bulldozing the structure would "help the neighborhood and the citizens of Kimball," Pesnell said.
Gouger said there is a mechanism in place through the city's ordinances that allows Kimball to tear the house down and clean up the property, but he cautioned the board that there is "really no equity in that property."
"The bank has the mortgage, and if they were to foreclose, it would cut off the city's lien on the property. [Kimball] wouldn't get anything out of it. I just don't want anybody to think that by that, at some point in time, [Kimball] is likely to get its money back," he said. "You probably won't."
Mayor David Jackson said demolishing the house and cleaning up the site would cost the city about $5,000.
There is no danger of foreclosure on the property right now, Gouger said.
Another option the town has would be dealing directly with the bank that holds the mortgage, he said.
"The bank has some obligation, and if the town were to proceed with tearing it down, you'd have to give notice to the bank, as well as the property owners," Gouger said. "If [the bank] has interest in doing it, they could certainly come in and make improvements to the property, or with consent, they could tear it down and clean it up."
He said he will discuss that option with bank officials this month.
"You can't build back on it, and what's there is dilapidated," Pesnell said. "It needs to be torn down because of safety factors. Somebody could get in there and get hurt."
City leaders will "do a little more studying" of options and take up the matter again at their next meeting Oct. 3, Jackson said.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.