SEE THE MAP: The Decatur City Council on Monday moving to demolish more than 40 properties. Here's where they are.

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DECATUR — The Decatur City Council on Monday is scheduled to vote on starting the process to demolish 47 "unsafe and abandoned structures."

The demolitions are part of city's neighborhood revitalization effort, meant to target blight and sinking property values in Decatur's central  residential areas.

The initiative was announced in 2017. 

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation donated $1 million for the city's efforts. 


Q&A: How the city's demolition list works

How is a property added to the demolition list?

Neighborhood service officers, or inspectors, are in charge of looking for code violations around Decatur. They will use a checklist to determine if a building could be dangerous and unsafe. If it is determined to be in a condition that is unfit for human habitation, it will be added to the demolition list and the case handed over to the city's legal department to seek further information.

What does having a demolition letter sent mean?

The city will send a letter to the owner of a property and any others with a known interest in it. This letter gives them 15 days to begin taking action to address the code violations. This signals that the city may take further action as necessary.

Does that mean the building will be demolished?

No. The city would like to work with property owners as much as possible to maintain the appearance and safety of buildings. If the owner is working toward fixing the violations, the city won't proceed further to force a demolition, which are seen as a last resort. If a demolition is needed, the city would prefer it be the owner's responsibility. However, the city can file cases in Macon County Circuit Court in an attempt to force a demolition.

Can properties be taken off the demolition list before being torn down?

Yes. If the property owner can show they are making progress toward fixing the problems, the address won't appear on the demolition list. Inspectors try to look at each property on the list every 30 days to note any changes. An auction is held each year in an attempt to sell properties to owners that would be willing and have the means to fix it up.

What can be done to help if a structure appears unsafe?

As neighborhood service officers are out in different areas of Decatur, they will notice problems and attempt to address them. They will follow up on tips from residents who notice a potential issue. If a property has an occupant, they will ask permission to go inside. If a building is vacant, they will attempt entry if they are able and it appears safe to do so.

How much does an average demolition cost?

The cost to demolish an average sized house in Decatur has been estimated at $14,000-$15,000. That figure can vary depending on the size of the property and anything else that needs to be done, such as asbestos removal. The city has not had funding for demolitions in the past couple of years, but this year it has secured a stream of between $150,000-$200,000 that can be dedicated for that type of work. It has the potential to borrow $1 million if more demolitions are deemed necessary. It is estimated to cost several million dollars to address all the properties currently on the city's demolition list.

Where can information about properties with city code violations be found?

The city maintains a database with a map of Decatur available on its website showing information about properties with various types of code violations.


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