County, City Consider Inter-Local Pact on Demolition

An effort to tear down condemned houses in Meridian has come to a temporary halt. For the last seven years, officials from Lauderdale County and the city of Meridian have worked together to demolish condemned houses within the city.

As talks continue to reach an agreement on this issue, there is a separate initiative that could help to revitalize parts of Lauderdale County.

During the 7-year period, almost 400 condemned houses have been torn down in Meridian as part of the inter-local agreement. So far this year none have been demolished and won't be until the two governments reach a new agreement on the effort.

"The legality of it is that you have to have an inter-local agreement between the two governments," said Neal Carson, county engineer. "And until we get that approved, we're at a standstill right now."

The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors will meet Feb. 6 at 9 a.m. and will consider signing a proposed inter-local agreement with the city.

Newly elected president of the board, Joe Norwood, says if an agreement is reached at that time, demolition of the condemned houses could resume in 90 days.

Norwood says the county is working with the Secretary of State's office to establish a partnership that would help revitalize parts of Lauderdale County.

"We're entering into a pilot program with the Secretary of State's office where we're going to go back in and bring those properties in need up to standard," said Norwood.

It's estimated that about 300 parcels in Lauderdale County would be involved in this pilot program.

As part of the county's partnership with the Secretary of State's office, these parcels would be leveled and all standing water removed.

Basically, these parcels would be brought 'back up to standard,' and then made available for sale to residents within the area and others at large in an effort to get them back on the tax rolls.

Norwood says once the county reaches a new inter-local agreement with the city about the demolition effort, the county can proceed with its role in the pilot project.

City and county officials approved the first inter-local agreement for the demolition effort in January 2004.

Since then almost 400 condemned houses have been torn down. There are currently 44 structures on the waiting list.

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