Savannah to Introduce Blight Program - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/22/04

Savannah to Introduce Blight Program

You try to take care of your yard, but what about your neighbor's? You can complain, and the city can take them to court. Right now, Recorder's Court is bogged down with thousands of cases, and it since it's taking a while to get to those tough blight cases, the city started a program designed to really crack down.

It's vacant and unsafe houses which are an eyesore for entire neighborhoods, and the city wants them cleaned up. All year they've been cracking down. "We're doing more citations and that's good, probably 7,000 in the first six months of the year," said city manager Michael Brown.

And if after being cited, the owner doesn't clean up voluntarily, it's off to Recorder's Court. "Right now our Recorder's Court does a great job, but they handle thousands of cases," said Brown.

So in order to speed up the cleanup, before the tough cases go to court and take up time, the first stop is now an administrative hearing. "What this will do is take the difficult cases and really allow us to dig in and adjudicate the tough ones," said Brown.

"If there is no agreement, then it will be processed to Recorder's Court," said Jeff Felser, alderman-at-large.

It's a way to get houses cleaned up, so Georgia's first city doesn't look like a last resort. "It's going to be a quicker process, a more efficient process, and city council is going to be on top of the administrative judge to make sure cases like this have a big effect in Savannah," said Felser.

The blight program is set to start on August 2.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com

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