Abandoned Houses 'Very Frustrating' for Powder Springs
During Monday's town hall meeting, residents expressed concerns for unkept houses while they receive code enforcement citations for lesser offenses.
Abandoned houses in disarray and unresponsiveness from City Hall.
Those were among Powder Springs citizens’ chief concerns expressed during Monday night’s Ward 2 town hall meeting, hosted by the ward’s City Council representative, Al Thurman. The ward is the eastern chunk of the city shaded in green on the attached map.
“I’ve been questioned a number of times: ‘Why do we have ward meetings?’” Thurman said. “If I don’t hear from you, then I can’t represent you to know your best interests.”
After officials gave presentations on what projects the city government has completed and is working on, Thurman opened the floor for questions to the 30 or so in attendance at the Ron Anderson Recreation Center.
One woman said she was the first resident of the Platinum Creek subdivision about 20 years ago and has watched the homes go from having owners to being rented or in foreclosure. One house, she said, has been abandoned for four years, is “deteriorated,” and has people putting trash on the property.
She said she has spoken to “everybody including God” to “try and get something done about this house.”
“I have gotten citations from the city because my grass was five inches (too high) while I went on vacation. … Here’s this house four years, and four years I’ve been trying to deal with the city,” she said.
Interim City Manager Brad Hulsey assured the woman that he would come meet with her personally and they would check out the house.
Adding on to the conversation about code enforcement citations, another woman said: “I appreciate the fact that code enforcement is out there doing their job … they ticket me for oxidation on my siding, but you go down the street … and the grass is like three feet tall.”
With the city containing “a lot of abandoned houses,” it “doesn’t seem fair” to get citations while those houses aren’t maintained at all, the woman said.
The abandoned houses are “very frustrating” for both residents and the city, Community Development Director Pam Conner said.
She said no one is there to maintain the property, so the city issues warnings and citations to the banks. But then the banks sell the property to other banks, and the issuance of warnings has to start over, she added.
And when the citations are issued, Conner said, no one appears in court for the citation, but the judge can’t issue a bench warrant to the company’s registered agent for failure to appear because that person’s out of state or other legal issues.
“Frankly, what I think would be real interesting is if there was an article or some coverage in the press and the media about the banks and the mortgage companies not taking care of these properties,” she said.
What is the solution to the abandoned houses? Tell us in the comments.
Conner said the City Council could vote to demolish abandoned houses at the city’s expense under the nuisance ordinance, just as they recently did with the vandalized, trashed house on Misty Bleau Drive that was previously called “the worst property” in Powder Springs. The city might or might not be able to get the money back through a lien, she added.
Another resident who lives in Wild Horse Hills called the subdivision the “lost subdivision."
“We pay city taxes, but the city hasn’t come to fix our streets,” she said. “Hopkins has had their streets repaved probably twice since I’ve been in Powder Springs."
“It’s really falling apart over here,” she said.
Thurman suggested coming to City Council meetings and signing up for citizen comment. He said he couldn’t speak on behalf of the Cobb Board of Education, but did ask if Mayor Pat Vaughn or the other four council members, who were sitting at the back of the room, had anything to add.
When they didn’t immediately respond, the crowd began to grumble, with one woman saying: “That’s how it is all the time."
“All I can say is we’ll look into it,” Councilman Chris Wizner said.
Near the end of the meeting, Vaughn suggested to residents: “Don’t wait to the town hall meeting. Please call us."
Soon after, one resident who said she qualified for a grant that would have helped her during foreclosure told the mayor: “I cried out to you several times about my house being in foreclosure. I am yet to get (a response). By the grace of God, I am not in foreclosure today.”
Vaughn said she remembers the resident contacting her about the grant, and that she passed along her information to the appropriate person in charge of the grant.
“We were just the messenger,” the mayor said. “We didn’t control the money.”
The resident thrice repeated that she never received a response, with the mayor saying she passed the woman’s information along.
Also discussed at the meeting was Powder Springs crime. Police Maj. Matt Boyd encouraged citizens to get involved in neighborhood watches and to call the police department anytime with questions.
Boyd said that officers can get tied up while responding to other calls, but that they’re not just “sitting out on C.H. James Parkway writing citations” and are patrolling all streets in the city.
Another resident said she hopes to see lights installed outside the Ron Anderson Recreation Center for at night when it’s “pitch black” and kids are leaving. Boyd said that with the park under county control, he would call and see what can be done.