LaFayette discusses dilapidated properties

Published 5:11 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2019

LaFAYETTE — The city of LaFayette is aggressively going after dilapidated properties within the city limits in an effort to clean up its image.

The city council will host a public hearing on 10 properties a week until they get through an extensive list of properties that have been neglected or are considered eyesores to the community.

Although that process started Monday night, three property owners on Alabama Avenue East were given extensions to fix, sell or demolish their homes within a two-month window.

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Janet Owens of LaFayette represented one of the homes.

She said she’s been asking her family for help to fix up the property, but she hasn’t received much response.

Owens said she has also tried to rent the property in an attempt to keep it lived in, but she couldn’t find anybody who wanted to pay rent.

Code Enforcement Officer Rodney Arwood said he didn’t notice any changes to the property on the outside since he posted the notice.

He said the lawn was overgrown, trash littered throughout the yard and boards on the doors and windows.

Owens said she boarded the door and windows because she kept getting reports of them being open, and she feared somebody was getting in the house.

Arwood said there appeared to be structural damage on the outside of one of the other two homes, the lawn is overgrown, and there’s no power to the house.

He also mentioned rotten boards at the base of the house.

Albert Whitlow was there in response to the city’s notice. She said the rest of her family is gone from the area, but she has started to work on the inside of the house. She called it a family home that she wants to keep around, but it’s too expensive to do everything at once.

“I can’t afford to work on the outside and inside at the same time,” she said. “I also can’t afford to build another house.” 

She said there are no structural problems on the inside of the house.

On the final home given an extension, Arwood said the daughter of the owner contacted him, recently found out about the notice and will address them.

Arwood said the home has major fire damage due to a recent blaze and the walls and ceilings on the inside were black.

LaFayette Mayor Barry Moody told the individuals at the meeting that the council was giving them more time to figure out their situation.

“In two months, we will come back and see where we are,” he said.

City Attorney Joseph Tucker said it was best to make a motion declaring the properties dilapidated and then table the motion for 60 days.

This made it so the city didn’t have to go through the process of posting new notices on homes and starting the timeline over again.

Once a property is tagged by the city, the owner is notified by certified mail.

Then, the owner has 60 days to clean it up.

If not, the city can declare the property a nuisance. This triggers a public hearing to determine if the city will move forward.

Once the property is a nuisance, the city can either clean the property itself or pay to have it done, and a lien would be placed on the property.

At that point, the owner of the property would be responsible for paying for the work.

Six other properties in LaFayette were declared nuisance properties. The city will host a work session before its next meeting on Jan. 28 to determine how to move forward.