12/29/05 — Dilapidated: City must be methodical about condemnation process

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Dilapidated: City must be methodical about condemnation process

There are 76 properties waiting for Goldsboro City Council to do the paperwork before they are through the condemnation process and ready for demolition. And there are 60-plus waiting in the wings to head into the process.

And that is just this round. Who knows how many more families are living in or near structures that could be at the very least health hazards and at most, dangerous.

The problem of dilapidated properties in the city is not a new one — and it is a common one in most municipalities of any size across the United States.

Goldsboro is lucky in one sense — at least there is a minimum housing code here. Some communities do not even have a recourse to go after violators.

The conditions in some of the worst properties are often shocking — just look at the reports on some of the houses that are currently on the city’s condemned list.

And what is really scary is that some of them are housing families — as was the case in the recent story of the apartments on Randall Lane.

The fact that so many structures in this city do not meet minimum housing standards — and that there are so many people still living in them — is reason for city officials and others who care about Goldsboro’s future to get to work.

Officials rightly point out that the reason that the condemnation process moves so slowly is that there are a lot of steps to make sure the decisions are fair and property owners have ample time to correct the problems.

But even after the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, the properties are still waiting for the final condemnation — and demolition — orders.

The reason?

Demolishing buildings and sending the bill to property owners takes money and personnel. And there is no guarantee that once the city levels a dilapidated property, the bill is going to be paid. There also could be some liability issues as well — the city does not really want to have a whole stable of dilapidated and potentially hazardous properties under its control.

Those are valid concerns.

However, if Goldsboro is truly serious about shoring up its image and attracting more dollars and residents, this is one of the first concerns that need to be addressed.

An attractive, well-cared-for city, with buildings that are required to toe the line — is very enticing to those who are looking for a place to invest their money.

If city officials want Goldsboro to be that place, cleaning up is a good start.

Letting irresponsible property owners know that this city will not allow them to continue to let their buildings deterioriate without consequences — expensive ones — would be an appropriate first step.

Published in Editorials on December 29, 2005 11:19 AM