Q&A with Clarence Brooker
DEMOPOLIS — The city council here has long been wrestling with a dilapidated houses list — a series of properties that are in various stages of disrepair around Demopolis.
Building official Clarence Brooker Jr. is the man in charge of that list. Brooker, who has been the city’s building official for 19 years, also serves on the city’s planning commission.
There are 15 properties on the current list. That list will be published Wednesday.
Q: How does a property get listed on the dilapidated houses list?
A: By someone complaining or by seeing the property and thereby investigating it. Some examples that could make a property be listed as dilapidated are the physical condition of the floors and roof, if either one is falling in. People are not usually living in them.
Q: Is there recourse for the property owners?
A: If I make the determination that the house is dilapidated, the owner has the right to appeal that decision. They and I can often agree on a way to get that property off the list. It’s possible to bring those properties back to standard.
Q: Is it difficult to get a property off of the dilapidated property list?
A: Not really. Not if you do what you’re supposed to, but it gets difficult because we have so many absentee property owners.
Q: So what’s the worst that can happen if a property owner ignores being on this list?
A: If no progress is made within a certain time period, say 90 days, after being notified, it is turned over to the city attorney, Rick Manley, who will send them a letter as a followup. Then, within a given time frame, the city can, will and has torn dilapidated buildings or houses down. Then, if the property owner doesn’t pay for the demolition and clean-up of the property, the cost may be added to their city ad velorem (property) taxes.