Legislative Attorney outlines condemnation procedures for McKinney’s 4 Way Hotel

By  | April 11, 2018 | Filed under: News

The now-closed, Four-Way Inn is where the parolees are to be housed.

COLBERT COUNTY – As public disdain grows over a proposed State Department of Corrections inmate re-entry program at McKinney Lumber Company, there is yet another foot-fall in the effort to stop the project. The State Fire Marshall is working on condemning the building in which Chester McKinney reportedly intended to house upwards of 30 persons from Alabama state prisons who were going to work at  his pallet manufacturing facility, situated next door to the old 4 Way Motel. According to Alabama State Representative, Johnny Mack Morrow who is leading the effort to stop this project, upwards of half of the intended residents there would be registered sex offenders. There are 2 residents at the motel now. They are registered sex offenders.

Recently, the Assistant State Fire Marshall conducted his inspection of the 4 Way Motel and found it unsuitable for occupancy due to building code violations. State law requires that this first finding by the Assistant Fire Marshall be part of a process in which the building owner could appeal the finding. After that, a formal condemnation could be issued.

Here is the email sent to Representative Morrow regarding the State condemnation proceedings and the statutes that come into play on projects such as this. The report was compiled by Legislative Attorney Caleb Hindman, of the Alabama Legislative Services Agency’s Legal Division. The communication was released to The Quad-Cities Daily, by Representative Morrow.

“Per our phone conversation, it appears the Fire Marshal inspected and condemned the 4-Way Inn, which Mr. Willie Simpson has proposed to turn into a parolee re-entry enterprise.  The following is a summary of the law relating to condemnation proceedings initiated by the State Fire Marshal.  If the condemnation was made by the sheriff on behalf of the Fire Marshal, the same procedures should generally apply.  If helpful, we can contact the State Fire Marshal’s office to determine if any deviation from the statutory procedures are employed when the condemnation is made by a local sheriff on behalf of the Fire Marshal.

The power and duties of the Fire Marshal are found under Chapter 19 of Title 36, Code of Alabama 1975.  Section 36-19-11 provides that if the Fire Marshal, upon inspection, finds a building or other structure to be especially susceptible to fire in a manner so as to endanger life or property, the Fire Marshal shall order the building or structure removed or remedied, and the order shall be immediately complied with by the owner or occupant of the building.

Sections 36-19-12 and 36-19-13 provide an appeal process for the owner of a building subject to a Fire Marshal’s order.  The owner, within 5 days of the Fire Marshal’s order, may appeal the order to the circuit court in the county in which the building is located.  The owner may appeal a final order of the circuit court to the Court of Civil Appeals, but the owner must provide a set bond amount and pay all costs of the appeal if he or she loses the appeal to the appellate court.

Section 36-19-14 provides that after the owner has exhausted his or her right to appeal, the circuit court may order the building to be repaired, torn down, or demolished, and all dangerous conditions remedied.  The expenses of all of the repairs or demolition are charged to the owner of the building.  If the owner cannot or does not, the expenses are charged to the Fire Marshal Fund.

Section 36-19-15 provides that if any expenses are charged to the Fire Marshal Fund, the expenses shall be a lien on the property superior to all other liens except a lien for taxes.  The section also provides a method for the disposition of the property and the proceeds of the sale of the property by the Fire Marshal.

Sections 36-19-1 and 36-19-16 to 36-19-18, inclusive, provide the Fire Marshal with general investigatory and police powers.  The Fire Marshal may request the local district attorney to aid in any investigation of a building.  The Fire Marshal may take testimony of any person who has knowledge of a matter under investigation and may cause a person to be arrested and charged with certain offenses.

I have attached a copy of the above-referenced statutes.  If we can be of further assistance, please contact this office. “

The Quad-Cities Daily has reached out to Mr. McKinney numerous times for comment. As of this writing, we have been provided with no insight from him or anyone in his company. We are eagerly awaiting a statement.

Please see our previous story: Representative Johnny Mack Morrow Voices Concerns Over Four Way Inn Project In Tuscumbia

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