By Andrew Bell
Bastrop's Historic District Commission is hopeful that the mayor and board of aldermen will take legal action compelling the owner of an empty building at 101 E. Madison Ave. to finish remodeling work that has stalled for several months.
What's more, the commission hopes the owner, Richard Anthony, is officially informed through the city's attorney that the space is not zoned residential, but strictly commercial.
The issue is one item on the agenda set for tonight's mayor and board of aldermen meeting at City Hall that begins at 6.
City clerk Sandra Goleman said yesterday it was a subject the board and mayor may or may not take any action on during the meeting.
The board, she said, has not had any prior collective discussion on the matter.
The commission, she noted, does not have legal authority, but can only recommend that the city take action.
“We will present to the board what efforts the commission has done already. The board can decide to not do anything, send another letter to the owner, or file suit,” Goleman said.
Susan Arnett, a commission member whose business, Arnett Jewelry, is across the street from the empty store front, says the commission wants the city to force the owner, last reported to reside in Texas, to make the building look “respectable, and not a detriment to other businesses on Main Street” whose owners have worked hard to have their business look at least presentable.
The commission has tried repeatedly in the past to contact and inform Anthony with no success.
“The building is an eye sore, and it's right on the thoroughfare where visitors come through town both ways,” Arnett said. “They (owners) have started and stopped and started and stopped work. We want them to finish.”
According to Goleman, the owner has been in direct violation of both a city and Historic District Commission ordinance that forbids the building from residential occupancy.
Goleman said it's suspected, and Arnett confirmed, that up until about two weeks ago someone was living alone in the building.
"When someone buys a building on Main Street, there are certain terms they have to agree to," Whit Broussard, owner of Whit's Pharmacy located next door to the building, said. "This man (owner) has not met those terms. He was suppose to stucco the outside. You can see where he started, but he never finished.”
While the city once owned the building, it's ownership has changed hands several times over the years. Marc Vereen, Main Street director, said the last time a business operated out of the building was when it was a children's clothing store several years ago.