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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Mitchell Main Street Property Owner Responds after Mitchell Building Commissioner evicts his tenants

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

MTICHELL - JULY 4, 2023 - (Correction) - Mackey says he purchased the property two years at 615 Main Street)

This Fourth of July holiday Mitchell residents are living in fear, and confused how the City of Mitchell Building Commissioner has evicted them from their apartments.

During the Mitchell City Council meeting Monday night, ahead of Independence Day celebrations Mitchell Mayor Nathan Jenkins announced the eviction of residents in apartments located at 615 Main Street in Mitchell.

Since the news story broke of the eviction, property owner James Mackey reached out to the Lawrence County Zephyr and responded.

The residents must be out of the location in 15 days of the notice which was served by Mitchell Building Commissioner Bill Sallee on Monday afternoon.

" I was not contacted in writing, phone, or in email by the Mitchell Building Commissioner about not being in compliance with the city ordinances. The allegations that I was are completely false," said James Mackey property owner of 615 Main Street.

According to Mackey he owns at least four properties in Mitchell investing over a half million in the Mitchell economy, hiring 10 employees, and providing more than 60 residents a place to live in the City of Mitchell.

" When I purchased the property about 2 years ago, this property was blighted. The 130-year-old building has always had sewer issues in the building. The infrastructure in Mitchell is antiquated. I removed four 30-yard dumpster loads of trash when I first purchased the property at 615 Main Street," stated Mackey.

" I have spent more than $25,000 to $30,000 in making improvements to the building which includes a new roof. When I went to seek a building permit the building commissioner Bill Sallee and former Mayor J.D. England reached out to me asking about renting the property to Lehigh workers. Mitchell did not have a place to house workers and they wanted to know if I would rent out my building to the influx of workers that were needing a place to live over the construction of the Lehigh plant,"

" Bottom line the City of Mitchell council needs to approve a variance on this issue and allow more residential apartments along the Main Street area due to the housing shortage in Mitchell," added Mackey.

While the Lehigh workers were renting at the location in the last two years, there was never any ordinance violations notifications. The Antique Mall rented the bottom, front space, and the tenants rented above and behind the Antique Mall at 615 Main Street.

Photo: For over two years, the City of Mitchell did not address the safety of a collapsing building that eventually caused a gas leak, evacuation to several blocks in the downtown area of Mitchell. However, the former Mayor J.D. England, acting Mayor Larry Caudell and current Mayor Nathan Jenkins did not impose any fines on the property owner as required by Mitchell City ordinance and city codes.

However, the owner of the Antique Mall moved a couple buildings down and started filing complaints at city hall about residents living next to their business. The business owner was tired of people coming in and out of the location who lived at 615 Main Street.

" After the Lehigh, workers moved out the complaints continued until the action was taken by the building commissioner on Monday. The city has allowed a building down from my property, and it was collapsing for the last two years and no action was taken by the building commissioner,"

Mackey says the renters from the Lehigh project did not have any issues with him as a landlord in the two years that he has rented out available apartments to them.

Rent was collected from the tenants because he was never notified that the city would be taking this action. Renters gave Mackey this month's rent, of $800 a month and now is being forced to find other living arrangements.

" Yes, there was some issues in the apartments that needed addressed, and might have taken longer than expected, but during the COVID pandemic it was difficult to find people or companies to make the needed repairs,"

" I feel like this is the kind of stuff, that has been done in Germany several years ago. All my ten properties in the Lawrence County are now up for sale, after the city has taken this action," Mackey added.

Mackey is no longer a Lawrence County resident and formerly resided in Mitchell two years ago. Mackey has since moved to Florida.

Mitchell Mayor Nathan Jenkins has not officered any of the resident's assistance in finding housing at this time. When asked by a community member during the city council meeting Monday night, what if they do not move?

Mayor Jenkins responded by saying " They go to jail," and the same community member asked about the landlord. Mayor Jenkins responded by saying " There is nothing we can do,"

Many of the residents that are being evicted are asking about the legal process in the city evicting the tenants verses the actual landlord.

" These were renters who paid their rent on time, and I was not evicting any of them. The City of Mitchell took that action on by itself," said Mackey.

The Lawrence County Zephyr will continue to monitor developments to this story.


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