Northeast Tarrant

Owner of apartment complex with more than 700 code violations given 30 days to fix it

The owner of the Dakota Place apartment complex has 30 days to decide if he will repair or demolish the complex which has over 700 code violations.

The city council voted unanimously to give property owner Charles Mercer the 30-day ultimatum after a public hearing in which officials outlined the violations, which included mold, roach and rodent infestations and problems with the roofs and electrical systems.

If the owner cannot make the repairs in 30 days, he must give reasons and submit a timeline for when the work will be finished.

Mercer, who spoke during the hearing, accused officials of providing vague and incomplete reports about the problems at Dakota Place, 450 East Pipeline Road, and said that he had filed permit applications to make the necessary repairs, but he never got responses from Hurst officials.

Mercer said he bought the property five years ago.

Jeff Duncan, a contractor who said he has done work for Mercer, said some city officials pegged him as a “slum lord.”

“He is not a bad guy,” Duncan said.

During the hearing, officials described how complaints about mold, rodents, sewage backups and other problems began in June of 2014.

In a notice sent to Mercer, building inspector Robert Wallace said, “The purpose of this letter is to provide you notice that I, as the Building Official for the City of Hurst, have determined that the Property referenced herein is dilapidated, substandard, and unfit for human habitation and constitutes a hazard to the public health, safety, and welfare.”

In an email to the Star-Telegram, city attorney Matthew Boyle said that Mercer has “steadfastly” refused to make the repairs, and he has made repairs to the roofs and electrical systems illegally and without the necessary permits.

In February, Hurst hired the firms of Childress Engineering, Farmer Environmental Group and Bureau Veritas to inspect the Dakota Place Apartments. The roofs in the four buildings were found to be “unserviceable” and the fire department said they were too dangerous and off limits for firefighters.

The environmental firm found bad odors, “atypical of residential structures” in some units, dirty vents and registers, water damage resulting in partial ceiling collapse and substantial debris in the air.

Other violations included infestation of roaches, gnats and holes in balcony floors.

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With my guide dog Barbara, I keep tabs on growth, economic development and other issues in Northeast Tarrant cities and other communities near Fort Worth. I’ve been a reporter at the Star-Telegram for 34 years.