Meridian, Miss. More strides are being made to rid the city of Meridian of eyesores. According to the latest quarterly report from the Community Development Department for the City of Meridian, 160 structures have been added to the list for the condemnation process. All of those structures are in different phases of going through the procedure. Because going through the process can often take years, Ward 5 Councilman Randy Hammon says the number of structures on that list is much higher.
"The list probably has 1,000 to 1,500 total, but see that list is added to every time they go out and do inspections, and they condemn more houses, or they have lots that need to be cleaned or vehicles that need to be removed," says Hammon.
To address this issue, council members have adopted a five year plan in hopes of speeding up the condemnation process.
"We've submitted that we want to try to get I think 35 houses per ward to be torn down this year if at all possible," says Ward 4 Councilwoman Kim Houston. "So, we have a real push to get our city cleaned up."
In order for this to be done, council members say there is especially one pressing issue that must be addressed.
"The numbers are so large that there isn't enough manpower to handle it in our case," says Hammon. "A lot of cities have three to five code enforcement officers to handle this load; we only have one, and maybe somebody helping him. We have to have another code enforcement officer."
According to Councilman Hammon, an additional code enforcement officer is expected to be hired within the next two months.
"I know that we have people in our wards who are wanting stuff done like right now, but there's a process to it all. The last thing that we want to do is tear down a property and then the owners come," says Councilwoman Houston. "So, we have to make sure that we've sent out all of the notifications, we've posted it in the paper, and that we do all of those things to give people an opportunity to claim that property back, or do what they need to do to get it up to code."
According to the city's code enforcement officer, there are currently 8 structures that are ready for demolition. By the end of this month, he expects another four to be added to that number.