Director of Code Enforcement David Riggs spoke to Athens City Council Monday about the city’s blight and condemnation process.
Blight properties are those that have some type of damage that makes the property unsafe or unsanitary, Riggs said. Properties that are considered to be blighted will undergo the blight process, where the property is inspected and notices of violations and orders to comply are issued if necessary.
If the blight process is undergone and the property owner cannot be found or does not address violations, the city will begin the condemnation process. That process includes inspection of the property as well as the removal of tenants if the property is considered to be unsafe.
If the owner of the condemned property does not repair it, the city will hire an appraiser to find out the property’s value. If the cost of repair is 130% higher than the current value of the property, then the property can be demolished.
“I really hate to see a structure demolished,” Riggs said. “We try to find any way we can to get the property owner to either sell the property or fix it up.”
Riggs said the blight and condemnation processes are very long, and getting property owners to either sell or repair their property is the easiest way to see improvements.
Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, said those processes are in place in order to help citizens rather than hurt them.
“We’re not doing this as a city because we want to open up housing or something,” Fahl said. “We’re protecting the health and safety of our citizens.”