Commissioner says court system isn’t doing enough to punish people who neglect their property

Commissioner says court system isn’t doing enough to punish people who neglect their property

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Could changing city ordinances cut down on community blight? One Augusta commissioner says he’s disappointed with the current law, that he said, needs to be more strict.

Commissioner Marion Williams said he’s tired of seeing vacant and abandoned properties overrun with vegetation and rodents. He said some homes and parcels of land have been in that condition for decades.

He said code enforcement employees are doing all they can but he’s not sure if the court system is doing enough

“Some of these properties, you can’t even see the property because the vegetation has grown up. We need to get in there and clean it up and cut it up, cut it back and let the people next door know that we’re going to hold them accountable and we want everyone to do the same thing," said District 9 Commissioner Marion Williams.

For example, the commissioner contacted code enforcement about a vacant home in the 1700 block of Walden Drive two weeks ago. He said this property has been in that condition for 20 years.

The city’s Unified Code Enforcement Division Manager Terrence Wynder’s team investigated. At Tuesday’s committee meeting, he said it’s a property that’s got a lot of violations.

“We issued a notice of violation letter for this property and right now it’s in the due process stage. Any time we send out a notice of violation letter, by law, have to give it 30 days for the owner to repair the property,” Wyndner said.

Wydner said they’ve not been able to get in touch with the property owner to repair or demolish the structure. He said someone with the city’s environmental services department will cut the overgrown grass.

He further explained his department does have ordinances to tackle these violations. When they contact the owner, they get an order to have the property torn down. In the event of a nuisance violation, a property owner has a 10-day time frame to comply with the department’s expectations before winding up in magistrate court.

Williams said judges, code enforcement and city leaders will meet to address enforcing the ordinances, fines and court process.

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