Some of Macon’s most dilapidated houses are about to be torn down thanks to a move Thursday by City Council’s Appropriations Committee.
The committee approved spending $100,000 to tear down 15 burned-out houses identified for demolition by the city’s Economic and Community Development Department. But instead of taking the money from an unallocated reserves account, Finance Director Tom Barber suggested the committee move unused money from ECD’s land acquisition fund since the fiscal 2010 budget year is drawing to a close and that money would be best used for these demolitions.
The measure must still pass a vote of the full council before going into effect.
ECD Director Wanzina Jackson said Thursday the 15 houses selected by her department are “the worst ones that we have.”
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She said the process of demolishing a condemned house isn’t as simple as knocking it down. Laws require the city to take certain environmental cautions when tearing down a house. Even before that, the city must go to court for the legal right to raze it.
Keith Moffet, Macon’s director of internal affairs, said the measure is part of the mayor’s push to demolish 100 abandoned and dilapidated houses this year. So far, Moffet said, the city has taken down 40 houses and has about 30 more that are undergoing the legal and environmental processes required by law.
“These are some of the worst of the worst,” Moffet said. “They really are a nuisance.”
Macon Mayor Robert Reichert stepped into the meeting to thank the committee for approving large equipment purchases in last year’s budget, which has enabled city crews to take down the houses at a much faster clip. In fact, the crews are working almost too quickly, he said.
“They can take down houses so quickly that we got ahead of the money to do the legal (steps) and the environmental remediation,” Reichert said, explaining in part why ECD needs the additional money.
Committee members were in such agreement with the request that they approved the measure before Jackson had a chance to present a slideshow of the 15 houses to be demolished. The committee did, however, let her present the pictures, which showed houses in various states of fire damage and disrepair.
The committee met Thursday because Monday, which is its regular meeting day, is a holiday.
To contact writer Chris Horne, call 744-4494.