More than 20 decaying houses condemned by marshal’s office

Published 5:22 pm Friday, March 31, 2017

The Bainbridge-Decatur County Marshal’s Office condemned between 20-25 houses earlier this week in an attempt to fight neighborhood decay. The marshals went around and judged houses on their ability to be lived in, and if deemed unsafe, they were condemned.

According to Keith Pollack of the Marshal’s Office, the houses chosen to be inspected were chosen for different reasons, some were in visible disrepair from the street while some were inspected due to complaints that were called in to the city.

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“We’re just going out and identifying unsafe properties,” said Pollack. “We’re asking the property owners to tear them down. If not, the city will step forward with the orders that we have in place and have some of them taken down and removed.”

The criteria for what makes a house unsafe and suitable for demolition are varied.

According to Pollack, the Marshals looked for roofs that were falling in, homes with foundational issues and even homes that were deemed not secure.

The homes that were condemned this week are just the first list of homes in a long process. The city plans to mark more houses, but have no timeline for their process.

“Our goal is to get at least 20-25 of them in this first round,” said Pollack. “We’re going to give them (the owners) a 60-day notice to contact us and talk to us about what they want to do, then after 60 days we’ll step in.”

The condemned homes subtract from the property value of the area. Their demolition would be beneficial to all surrounding properties, which prompted the City of Bainbridge to get involved.

“I had asked the Marshal’s office to get aggressive on this because these structures are an eyesore and they negatively impact neighborhood property values,” said City Manager Chris Hobby. “It is our hope that most of these property owners will take care of their property, but if not we stand ready to take action.”

According to Pollack the values are not just low, they actually have no value because they are not suitable for living.

“These properties that we’re looking at have no property value at all, and it brings other surrounding properties around it down as well as far as property value,” said Pollack. “So we’re looking to improve the neighbors property value by getting rid of some of these old homes.”

Although the property owners have been notified and have 60 days to cooperate with the city, Hobby says it is a legal issue and it will be a time consuming process from condemnation notice to actual removal of the property.