For several months I’ve heard from contractors and City employees about the apartments being constructed outside the city limits on Hwy W. Most I’ve spoken to have indicated that the buildings do not meet Poplar Bluff building codes.
The owners of the property, Gill Family Properties from Dexter, have built three townhouses and have plans for a total of 12 buildings in the subdivision. The townhouses are very nice looking and quality rental properties are always a plus for a growing community.
Outside the city limits, no licenses are required for builders, plumbers, electricians, etc., and no inspections are made of the property. So buildings can be built much cheaper using non-certified workers to pull electrical cable, install outlets and electrical panels, run plumbing pipes, and the like.
From conversations I have had with City employees, the city planner, Dennis Avery, is aware that these buildings do not meet City code. But did Avery share any of those details with Planning and Zoning? Not to my knowledge.
Two weeks ago, I called and spoke to City Inspector, Scott Stone. Asked if the Gill Properties would be inspected once they were annexed, he said, no, they might check the width of the hallways for the fire department but other than that they really don’t do inspections on buildings annexed into the city.
I asked the inspector whether they could inspect it since Municipal Utilities is providing power to the site. He said that they can only inspect it up to the meter if it is outside the city limits.
I don’t really blame the Gill Family for using the lack of codes to their advantage. It is probably a very wise business decision. I stopped my investigation once I found out that on May 9th, the Gill Family requested annexation of the property. I felt it was a dead story since all of the remaining buildings would be inspected and built to code.
But yesterday’s DAR stated the request for annexation was only for only the three completed buildings not the entire subdivision of 12 lots. The DAR reported that when asked why Gill was not seeking a zoning classification and annexation for the entire site, Chad Gill replied “We don’t know how many we are going to build.”
Why, Mr. Avery, did you not inform Planning and Zoning that there could be another reason for the partial zoning & annexation request?
I have friends inside City Hall and while I was investigating this story I was informed that Dennis Avery had said that the Gill apartments were off limits because they were “friends of Bagby.” Oh, now we know why Mr. Avery didn’t speak up….
I think the city should consider changing their ordinances to include a few ways to protect their citizens. If you want the benefits of the City’s power, water and sewer then your buildings need to be built to City’s codes.
- Property owners must request annexation prior to requesting service from MU.
- All buildings constructed after December 31, 2013 and requesting annexation should be required to provide inspectors with all plans to prove they are within code and allow inspectors the ability to inspect the building.
- Out of compliance buildings shall either come into compliance, or
- Pay a higher utility and property tax rate for five years as a penalty, and be required to display a non-compliance warning on leases, sales contracts and front door of each building.