City on demolition: Free now, or pay later

Published 4:07 pm Monday, June 1, 2009

By By Kerry Whipple Bean

Property owners with dilapidated buildings that need to be torn down have a chance to get the work done for free — but if they don’t take advantage soon, they could end up paying later.
The City of Brewton has received a community development block grant to demolish eligible vacant, dilapidated residential properties in the city limits.
At a public hearing recently to discuss the grant, city officials said the program could save property owners money.
The grant program is voluntary, but the city wants to make sure dilapidated properties are cleaned up — and will likely pursue demolition even after the grant program is over
And if the city pursues demolition and has property condemned, property owners are liable for the costs, community development director Steve Yuhasz said.
While only one property owner attended Wednesday’s public hearing, Yuhasz said he has received a number of calls from residents interested in the program.
Documentation will include a deed and a property tax notice from the property, Watts said.
If both forms of documentation are not available, or if there are multiple property owners, the city attorney will determine whether ownership has been established to demolish the property.
City councilman Joe Watson said he hoped the documentation process is not too difficult.
Watson said he would let residents and churches in his district know about the program.
Watts said that kind of word of mouth, especially as the project gets under way, could help get more property owners to sign up for the program.

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