Council moves forward with effort to clean up dilapidated properties

By John Dilmore

The Atlanta City Council on Monday voted to move forward with efforts to demolish a number of dilapidated properties around town, continuing a process that began months ago with efforts to notify and work with the owners.
In some cases that was productive. A list presented at the city council meeting on Feb. 20 included 12 properties being considered for demolition -- the list considered by the council this past Monday had been reduced to seven.
“You all have seen evidentiary presentations from the fire chief,” City Manager David Cockrell told the council on Monday. “These properties need to be condemned. We believe they’re uninhabitable.”
Yet three of the properties do currently have occupants, according to Fire Chief Robin Betts. In those instances, the city plans to follow the guidance of City Attorney James Verschoyle and work through the county’s eviction processes, Cockrell said.
“Obviously, we’re not going to go running over there and demolish something that somebody’s got their effects in,” Cockrell said. “We will be as reasonable as possible.”
The motion passed by the council allowed Cockrell and Betts to use their discretion in working with property owners on the list.
The properties have been identified due to concerns related to both safety and aesthetics.
“You might ask: why are we going after those?” Cockrell said. “They are on our busier streets.”
Cockrell reiterated that efforts had been made to work with the owners.
“Everybody on this list, we made every effort to contact them,” he said. “Everybody on this list, we made every effort to work with them.
“We’ve had some owners come who roofed, they scraped paint, they repainted. They put in windows and they brought the property up.”
The properties voted on Monday night were at 423 White Street, 102 Miller, 509 Johnson, 435 Hodge, 610 Polk, 625 Wade and properties on Grigsby Street and West Main Street for which specific addresses weren’t provided.
This is a continuation of a process of addressing run-down properties in the city, which initially identified 120 structures as unacceptable.
Also on Monday, the council received a positive report from an independent auditor. 
Kelly Birdwell with Wilf and Henderson of Texarkana told the council, “We look at the internal controls and the compliance with laws and regulations of the financials as a whole, and we had no findings, or no instances of non-compliance reported.”
In other action, the council:
-Affirmed a $17,022 change order authorizing the city manager to replace lights at the Sportsplex.
-Approved a resolution denying an application for authority to increase rates submitted by Southwestern Electric Power Company.
-Approved two easement agreements.
-Approved installation of carpet on the second floor of the library and of vinyl plank in the office area of the first floor.

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