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Owner of fire-damaged historic home faces charges

NATCHEZ — The owner of the crumbling Arlington Plantation house will be in Natchez Municipal Court on July 1 to face allegations of violating a city ordinance on overgrown properties.

The Natchez Democrat reports Dr. Thomas Vaughan of Jackson entered a not guilty plea earlier this week in city environmental court, which is a division of municipal court.

Vaughan has been at odds with the city over the alleged neglect of the property for years.

The house, build around 1818, suffered severe fire damage to the roof and the second floor in September 2002. A roof was installed on the house shortly after the fire, but no other work has been done to protect the house from weather or vandalism.

The house was named the second most endangered historic property in the state by the Mississippi Heritage Trust in 2009.

Municipal Court Judge Pro Tem Tony Heidelberg, who presides over the environmental court, said the city’s latest action in the ongoing neglect case should get some results.

“I think it’s a good start to basically getting something going with that property,” he said.

If found guilty, Vaughan could be facing jail time and a $1,500-a-day fine for every day he has not corrected the violations since being notified of the latest violations, which was a little more than a month ago, Heidelberg said.

The neglect of the Arlington house will not be addressed in the trial, Heidelberg said, but could be addressed at a later date.

“Basically we’re taking it one step at a time and trying to work with (Vaughan) to correct the problem,” he said.

In 1973, Arlington was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974. It is one of 13 such designated properties in Natchez.

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