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Panel favors moving ahead on demolitions

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 Many of Augusta’s worst properties could be leveled by the end of the year.

The properties, many of them privately owned but abandoned, already have court approval for demolition and are “clearly beyond rehabilitation,” Code Enforcement Manager Pam Costabile told the city’s administrative services committee Monday.

By a 3-0 vote, the committee favored letting the city begin contracting with demolition companies to tear down the dilapidated sites for what Costabile said would cost about $5,000 each. Commissioner Alvin Mason was out.

Costabile said 188 sites would be cleared or under contract to be cleared by the end of the year, with the possible addition of 30 to 40 sites scheduled for an October court hearing.

Commission Jerry Brigham motioned to approve the demolition, spending $500,000 in city funds from the urban services district or suburban district, depending on the properties’ locations.

Most of the sites are within the old city limits, Costabile said.

“Some of these areas have been neglected for far too many years,” said Commissioner Matt Aitken, whose District 1 contains many of the properties.

“This is a win-win,” Commissioner Bill Lockett said.

Brigham requested a report on which properties cleared by the city in recent years have been redeveloped or, if none exist, a report on future redevelopment of cleared tracts.

“We’ve got to get somebody that’s interested in owning this property other than the city,” Brigham said. “If we don’t put the structures back … it’s going to affect our digest.”

When the city begins taking and clearing the sites, commissioners will see “the land bank on steroids,” City Administrator Fred Russell said.

A government entity, the Augusta Land Bank Authority acquires and holds properties, typically until they can be redeveloped and sold.

In other business, Lockett’s motion to reinstate an advisory board to oversee activities of Augus­ta’s Housing and Com­mu­nity Development De­part­ment failed with only two supporting votes. Ait­ken voted against.

Lockett said he wanted the law department to revamp the board’s bylaws because it had too much authority before, but Aitken said he wanted to address “the overall picture and the landscape of boards” instead.

The city has nearly 30 advisory boards involved in issues ranging from animals and trees to the Savannah River and riverfront development.

The Engineering Services committee approved Russell’s recommendation on a modified remodeling job at the Municipal Building. The project, funded through a sales-tax allocation, has outgrown its budgeted money because of delays and new 2010 requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Russell said.

Among several options, Russell recommended a $22.8 million design that will extend a new compliant elevator tower from the east wing; remodel the Board of Elections, tax commissioner and tax assessor offices; and move the offices of the mayor, commission and law department to the second floor.

Properties to be demolished

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itsanotherday1
45338
Points
itsanotherday1 08/13/12 - 07:31 pm
3
0
Why can't they use jail

Why can't they use jail trustees to do the demolition? And don't forget DUI's, young speeders, and other folks sentenced to community service. I'm sure the doper sitting behind bars would enjoy getting out of doors for some fresh air.

TrulyWorried
15362
Points
TrulyWorried 08/13/12 - 08:31 pm
2
0
itsanotherday1

Yes, wonderful idea - why not make use of all those short timers that are bored to death - oh no - they have TV! Put prisoners to work - this will certainly help the taxpayers' wallets - most of them are emptying much too fast!

willie7
984
Points
willie7 08/13/12 - 10:18 pm
2
0
Thank you commissioners for
Unpublished

Thank you commissioners for taken this action. Hope the recommendation pass the full board of commissioners.

seenitB4
90703
Points
seenitB4 08/14/12 - 06:34 am
3
0
South Augusta

Let us not forget the south side.....they need some cleaning too....

Little Lamb
46903
Points
Little Lamb 08/14/12 - 08:00 am
1
0
Welfare

You know this is another welfare program. It is a transfer from people who pay their taxes to those who don't.

countyman
20584
Points
countyman 08/14/12 - 08:06 am
0
1
Olive rd, Wheeles rd,

Olive rd, Wheeles rd, Kissingbower rd, Nixon rd, Bungalow rd, Meadowbrook, etc are located in South Augusta... The overwhelmingly majority of properties are in the inner city(East Augusta, MLK, Laney Walker, Turpin Hill, Bethlehem) and South Augusta..

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 08/14/12 - 08:50 am
0
0
slum lords and tax evaders rejoice
Unpublished

even with these new vacant lots, the rats will find new homes. The ARC taxpayers are once again called upon to be the responsibly adults. Taxpayers are like an "insurance policy for inefficient and incompetent government."

Little Lamb
46903
Points
Little Lamb 08/14/12 - 08:59 am
2
0
Lein

When the government pays to demolish these houses and businesses, they at least ought to put a tax lein on the property, so that if and when the property is sold, the seller has to pay back the taxpayers.

itsanotherday1
45338
Points
itsanotherday1 08/14/12 - 09:24 am
1
0
I agree 100% LL; no way

I agree 100% LL; no way should the citizens absorb the cost. I would be very surprised if there isn't something in the law where the city can seize abandoned property or at a minimum, attach it and get some money back.
Based on the article, I assumed the city already owned some of it.

straightshooter
90
Points
straightshooter 08/14/12 - 09:31 am
0
0
@itsanotherday1

Probably because it would still cost nearly $5k/building for a Licensed demo crew to come in. You need a licensed company to tear buildings down, and that license (and equipment) is what drives the cost up. Then you would have to hire additional jail workers to watch all the "chain gangs" clean up what had been knocked down (probably around $25k/year)... Don't get me wrong, I'm all for putting them to work, but the difference in cost would be minimal if any. I say put them to work on gov't land working farmland. Have their harvest go to local shelters, feed all those in jail, and other good causes. That way you help out the less fortunate and cut some expenses of the jail with the food. Plus, it doesn't take as many jail workers to watch an open patch of land with rifles.

Little Lamb
46903
Points
Little Lamb 08/14/12 - 09:36 am
2
0
Taking

Yeah, Itsanotherday, I am curious about what actually happens to the property. From the story above we read this:

Commissioner Jerry Brigham requested a report on which properties cleared by the city in recent years have been redeveloped or, if none exist, a report on future redevelopment of cleared tracts. “We’ve got to get somebody that’s interested in owning this property other than the city,” Brigham said. “If we don’t put the structures back … it’s going to affect our digest.” When the city begins taking and clearing the sites, commissioners will see “the land bank on steroids,” City Administrator Fred Russell said. A government entity, the Augusta Land Bank Authority acquires and holds properties, typically until they can be redeveloped and sold.

It gives the impression that the Land Bank Authority actually buys the property before the city demolishes the structures. So the property owner gets paid, and the demolition contractor gets paid, and the taxpayer gets laid.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/14/12 - 04:14 pm
0
0
Singing a song from Poison

Singing a song from Poison after that zinger LL

If i understand it, the city deems something an eyesore, they take possession, they raze and/or sell the property. Where does the money go? Did we get that far yet?

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