Two city commissioners looking for abandoned properties - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Two city commissioners looking for abandoned properties

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November 17, 2006

Albany - - By the end of the year, the city of Albany plans to destroy four dilapidated homes. But two city commissioners say that's just a drop in the bucket.

Albany has dozens more structures that need to come down and they're willing to help city employees make it happen.    

City code enforcement workers inspect properties every day looking for weeds over 12 inches high and knocking on doors of abandoned buildings to track its owners.

Rotten boards, overgrown weeds. It's not just an eyesore, it could be a security violation. At least two city commissioners want to take it into their own hands.

Commissioner Jon Howard is one of them. He and Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard say city employees need help getting the job done, so they're volunteering to step in and write up violators.

"Just give me a city vehicle on weekends, during the week, me and City Commissioner Hubbard we can ride and these alleys and back roads and document and cite what's going on, what needs to be removed," Howard says.

Thelma Watson, Interim Enforcement Director says the department performed over 900 inspections last month. It only has 4 inspectors.

Reporter: "Are you short staffed right now?"

"We're doing an assessment to make that determination," Watson says.

Commissioner Howard isn't waiting. He's ready to hit the streets and capture slumlords.

"It's not my job but if I intend to retire in Albany Georgia, I want to make sure when I wake up I smell fresh air and when I look from the East to the West, I don't see no junk cars, run down buildings."

A responsibility he's willing to assume, if it means less blight.

The city of Albany moved its Code Enforcement Department from under the Planning Department's umbrella and created an Enforcement Department in September.

That new department consists of Code Enforcement and Alarm Registration.

City Manager Al Lott interviewed five candidates Thursday to head the Enforcement Division. Thelma Watson, who is currently filling in, is applying for that permanent position.

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