Condemnation leaves Brown feeling ‘targeted’

Pine Bluff Alderman Glen Brown believes he was “targeted” when a home that he owns was among a group of structures condemned by the City Council in a unanimous vote Monday night.

The standard resolution “declaring certain houses, buildings and/or structures as nuisances and ordering their abatement” included the house at 1614 South Lee Street that was the long-time residence of Brown’s late parents, Mack and Marcella Brown. The home was last occupied by the alderman’s brother, the late David Brown, who died just over a year ago.

“I feel targeted,” Glen Brown said after Monday’s council meeting, at which he voted in favor of the resolution. He went on to suggest that the family home progressed through the city’s condemnation process at a suspiciously fast pace.

Inspection and Zoning Department Director Robert Tucker disagrees with that assessment.

“My staff does not target people,” Tucker said Tuesday. “My staff is subjected to a lot of scrutiny by the public. They’re extremely careful and considerate in carrying out their duties. They have bent over backward in trying to work together with everyone.”

Brown said that’s not what he’s experienced.

“I don’t want anything special and I don’t want to be treated special,” he said. “All I ask is to be treated fairly.”

Brown admits that the house is in need of repairs, but said that he “can’t believe” that it’s “so bad” it merited a condemnation order before a number of other properties that he believes are in worse condition.

Brown said he is unaware of the city’s condemnation process, even though he is a former member of the council’s development and planning committee, which oversees inspection and zoning department actions. He said his family home “moved to the top of the list” within just “a couple of months” after initial communication from the city.

But Chief Inspector Mitzi Ruth offered a different view.

“We started receiving complaints from Lee Street residents on unkempt conditions at the Brown house there last year,” Ruth said. “It’s true that an initial notice of violation letter to Alderman Brown was dated only March 12, but there was work done on the matter leading up to that.

“We have procedures that we must follow,” she continued. “We realize that each case is different because circumstances are different, but we have to do our jobs. It’s nothing personal about what we do. It’s just our positions.”

Brown said he wants to restore the house, but has been hampered by an inability to bring his siblings together to arrange financing for improvements, and his continuing mourning of his brother’s death. Brown said his seven siblings are scattered around the country.

“This is an heir property,” Brown said. “There ought to be some provisions for that.”

“We’ll work with Alderman Brown and anyone else as much as we can,” Ruth said.