Quest to rid city of junk structures continues

Published 7:57 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Last Tuesday morning a house rose up in flames due to the clean-up process City of Atmore officials are diligently enforcing.
Atmore officials are coming together to clean up the streets of the city to make it a cleaner, safer place for residents.
Chris Black, a code enforcement officer for the City of Atmore, said that city officials are trying to identify any unsafe structures throughout the town and deal with these structures in the proper manner.
"When we identify an unsafe structure we notify the property owner," Black said. "We help them if we can. We first will give them the opportunity to take care of the problem themselves."
If the structure is deemed unsafe and the property owner will not take care of the safety issues, the city will do what it takes to clear the area, Black said.
"We will go and have the property cleaned or demolished," he said. "We will not do any repairs though. That is up to the property owner."
The purpose of the cleaning and demolition that is taking place is to keep children from playing in old, abandoned houses that could be harmful to go into.
"To get rid of old houses," Black said when asked what the reason behind the destruction is. "You get a house that is unsafe and abandoned that children will go in and try to play in."
There are times when after the demolition process, the city will burn the debris instead of taking it to land fields for disposal.
"Sometimes the fire department will allow us to burn in certain areas, which saves us from taking the debris to landfills," Black said.
The city takes bids on properties and contractors are responsible for determining how to clear the debris.
When the property is cleaned, the city waits on the owner to pay back the cost of cleaning. The city will put a lien on the property. A lien is a hold on any type of property.
"Once we clean the property, the city has to wait for the owner to pay us back for the property," Black said. "We put a lien on it."
Doing the demolition is a great thing because it gives the City of Atmore power of what happens within the city limits, Black said.
"It's a good thing to do," he said. "It gives us the tool to control things within the city."

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