Dougherty Co. makes new plans to tackle neglected properties

Dougherty Co. makes new plans to tackle neglected properties
This dilapidated property on Sweetbriar Road is still damaged from storms in January 2017. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Dougherty County is taking a significant step in addressing dilapidated or neglected, properties.

Some of these homes are still damaged from the January 2017 storms. Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas asked all of the commissioners Monday to identify the dilapidated properties in their district so they can plan on how to fix them or tear them down.

“What typically happens is we field a bunch of phone calls from people who are angry and we tend to be reactive. What I’m suggesting is we take a proactive, ‘ok what have we got left,’” said Cohilas.

Dougherty County District 3 Commissioner Anthony Jones said this will be a great “opportunity, one of the best opportunities we’ve had to get rid of the dilapidated properties that we have in Dougherty County.”

“Very good opportunity today, very good discussion,” the commissioner added.

There are several factors in an outline for a potential plan to fix Dougherty County’s dilapidated properties.
There are several factors in an outline for a potential plan to fix Dougherty County’s dilapidated properties. (Source: WALB)

Jones also said not every property will be tackled at once.

“Money drives the train and we don’t have a lot of money. So, we’re going to have to prioritize. We’re going to have to go through and take dilapidated properties from each commissioner then we’re going to have them give probably the worst three properties in their district, then we’re going to talk about them and then we’ll put them all together and prioritize whether we can do one, two, three,” Jones said.

District 4 Commissioner Russell Gray said they have to be more aggressive in going after homeowners of dilapidated properties.

Taxpayers pay for demolitions, not the homeowner.

Gray said that if not, “we’re just going to set a precedent where it’s ‘just leave it, the government will clean it up. I’ll walk away from it. I’ll leave Dougherty County. I’ll never do business here again, I’ll move somewhere else. I don’t care.’”

“And that attitude has to go,” Gray added.

Gray said a lien can be placed against the home, but it’s not always effective in deterring neglect.

An outline for a potential plan to fix Dougherty County’s dilapidated properties includes: Commissioners identifying dilapidated properties, Dougherty County Public Works estimating the cost to demolish properties, county administrator creating a report with the findings, and a selection process of most dire properties.

Not all of the properties are storm damaged, some are just neglected. Commissioners said they’ll discuss options for building a comprehensive plan at the next county work session.

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