Suwannee Democrat

February 15, 2013

City rejects offer to accept condemned building’s deed

Bryant Thigpen
Suwannee Democrat

Live Oak — The Live Oak City Council rejected an offer from John Chambliss to accept his property on West Howard Street and the corner of Pine Avenue that has been condemned by the city’s building officials. His and another building has sat condemned since TS Debby in late June when a 160-foot sinkhole formed partially underneath them. 


Meanwhile, demolition of the buildings that was mandated by a code enforcement magistrate has stalled.

Tamie Chambliss Debono, the daughter of John Chambliss, addressed the city council on behalf of her father.

“Several people from the city have asked my parents if they would be interested in just deeding the property to the city, so that’s why I’m here,” Debono said.

If the council had moved forward with accepting the deed to the property, the city would have taken the property “as is” and would be responsible for the costs of demolishing the buildings - which have been found unsafe by the Code Enforcement Board magistrate and must come down. An estimate obtained by the city from O’Steen Brothers out of Gainesville said it would cost $32,500 to demolish the buildings. The quote given to the city didn’t include the fee for asbestos removal, which would be removed at $75 per ton.

“I don’t understand why we would impose upon the city’s taxpayers to pay to demolish these buildings,” Council President Adam Prins said.


No vote was taken as it was the consensus of the board not to move forward. 


Code Enforcement Board magistrate, local attorney Lauren Howle, ruled that by 10 days from the date of her order (Jan. 30) a demolition permit would be required and demolition will have to take place within 40 days. Failing either of those commands will result in a $250 a day fine until compliance is met.


Ron O’Steen of O’Steen Brothers from Gainesville previously told the Democrat that Monday, Feb. 18 was the tentative date that his company would be razing the buildings.


However, O’Steen told the Democrat Thursday morning that due to the new developments, he has placed any demo on hold until he hears otherwise from the building owners, Chambliss and John Robinson.


“It’s just a matter of getting word from them, then I will file the 10 day notice,” with the Department of Environmental Protection, said O’Steen. 


He said he has already pulled all the permits he needs. The next step is to get the go ahead from the owners, file notice with DEP and commence demo.


The city of Live Oak can’t repair Warren Street or address sinkhole remediation until the buildings are down. 
Almost eight months since TS Debby, the future of the buildings still remain in the hands of the owners.