Mayor: Abatement project takes patience

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Demopolis &8212; Mayor Cecil Williamson says she shares the concerns of residents on the issue of dilapidated properties but that protocol must be adhered to.

Her comments come after Dana McCants, in the position of council liaison for the Citizen&8217;s Task Force, expressed frustration in the way the council has handled an issue referred to it by the task force.

According to Williamson the council has already secured the demolition of five buildings referred to the council by the task force.

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According to City Clerk Carla Cowling, the council must follow the 1997 Unsafe Building Abatement Code adopted by the city in 2000.

Under this code, the property must be inspected by a building official and a notice must be sent to the owner of the structure. The owner may then request a permit for repair of the property. If the owner decides to repair the building the time of repairs cannot exceed 120 days.

The property owner may also appeal the decision or demolish the structure.

If the owner seeks an appeal the council must send a hearing notice to the property holder 15 days prior to the meeting.

In the event that the appeal is unsuccessful the property holder must begin to comply with the repairs within 30 days, demolish the structure or file civil suit. If the owner seeks to file civil suit the council no longer has any involvement in the proceedings

The owner can demolish the structure according to code to satisfy the abatement process or the city can order demolition. If the demolition is carried out by the city, a lien will be placed on the property tax of the previous structure to recoup the expenses of the city and if the property tax is not paid the city may auction off the land.

According to Williamson, many of the structures in question are still in some part of the abatement process required by the building code and no action can yet be taken.