Bainbridge working to tackle blighted property issue

Published 5:03 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Bainbridge-Decatur County Marshal’s Office has been working to compile a list of vacant and abandoned buildings so they can help the owners eradicate the blighted property and beautify the city.

Roy Oliver, Keith Pollack and Chris Davis have been reaching out to residents whose home or property has been reported and keeping a color-coded list of the plan of action they intend to take. Most property owners have agreed to eradicate or demolish the property, while some have allowed Bainbridge Public Safety to use it for fire training.

Others have stated they plan to rehabilitate the building and turn it into something useful again. However, the Marshal’s Office is still waiting on responses to some of their calls.

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Davis, who works as the City Planner, explains the reason why Bainbridge and Decatur County have such an abundance of vacant buildings is because a lot of owners have no interest in the building if no one is renting it or using it at the time. They tend to let the building go, and the property goes downhill quickly.

Unfortunately, these vacant and abandoned buildings pose as a safety and health risk to the city and county.

“Many of the buildings downtown have shared walls and common space, so if one property owner lets a water leak go it could penetrate through the wall and deteriorate other spaces,” Davis said.

He explained that reasons like this are why it is so important to maintain the property, because it is often neighbors who are complaining of the vacant buildings. When Davis and others go to inspect the building, they first base it off of sheer looking. There are certain standards that have to be met and if the building is unsafe, then they have to contact the owner.

Davis said that is one of the primary reasons they created the list. They wanted to make sure residents are staying safe and fixing the problem instead of continuing to create a dangerous situation for others around them. Davis has found that most people are willing to tear down their property when they find that it is cheaper to demolish then refurbish a dilapidated building.

Davis assures residents who receive a notice about their building he is always open to conversation about the property. Most residents he has spoken with have been receptive to the changes and are willing to make fixtures in order to move forward with the process.

The Marshal’s Office is currently issuing the first wave of notices to downtown residences and have approximately 10 different buildings that need attention. They are working to give the owners ample time to fix their building to safe standards before the office sends out the second wave of notices to seven other properties.