A petition has been filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court seeking to have the owner of the Kress building held in contempt of court for failing to tear the structure down.
Pine Bluff City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott filed the petition March 1 against Elvin W. Moon, who owns the building at 326 Main Street and who was ordered by Circuit Judge Robert Wyatt Jr. to abate the building on March 1, 2017.
Information about the petition was just made public this week.
Moon had been found guilty of violating a section of the city code of ordinances by Pine Bluff District Judge John Kearney in 2015 and was given six months to demolish the building. He appealed that decision to circuit court, and Wyatt heard the appeal, giving Moon 10 days to begin demolition and 30 days to complete the job or be held in contempt.
In the motion for contempt, Hadden-Scott said Moon has failed to comply with the court order. He had hired a contractor (Mr. Brick) to demolish the structure but after the contractor reached a certain point, the contractor expressed concern that if he continued, it might cause damage to the adjoining buildings because the building shared a common wall and removing the beams could be problematic.
“Also since that time, various members of the Downtown Historic Commission (DHC) and the City of Pine Bluff Quality of Life Division have shared their concerns about the potential damage that could result from the demolition of said structure,” Hadden-Scott said in the motion.
She is asking that Moon appear in court to show cause why he should not be held in contempt, or in the alternative, for Wyatt to order Moon to obtain an updated structural engineer report which evaluates removing the “main steel and horizontal supports” that were mentioned in the report Moon submitted that was dated April 11, 2017.
That report, signed by Justin W. Hall of Hall Engineering of Little Rock, said the steel structure is fully attached to the outer walls and removal of the beams would “make them susceptible to falling from wind, earthquake or other means.”
The building has been condemned since 2015 and was the subject of debate during a meeting of the City Council’s Development and Planning Committee last week. The subject came up with a resolution sponsored by Alderwoman Thelma Walker to remove the building from the list.
That resolution was slated for a vote during the council meeting Monday night but was pulled without explanation.
Hadden-Scott’s petition has not been served on Moon, who lives in California. Walker told The Commercial last week that Moon was expected to be in Pine Bluff this week and city officials hope it can be served them. After service, it would be up to Wyatt to schedule a hearing.