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Blighted properties on city’s radar

Building inspector David Fearn’s hands are tied, which makes it difficult to clean up blighted properties in Brookhaven.

Aldermen were tasked in early August with gathering addresses of derelict properties in their individual wards and turning them in to Fearn. Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan’s list covered all six wards.

Earlier this month, Ward 4 Alderman Jason Snider wanted to know when he can expect to see an improvement.

“When I get the money to hire a contractor Oct. 1 we’ll go out and we’ll start cutting grass,” Fearn told him.

Fiscal Year 2019 starts Oct. 1. The city will have a public hearing on the budget Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex.

“I have about 35 properties to take down, but I’m not taking any down because I have no place to put them,” he said.

Fearn said he is expecting $10,000 budgeted for clean-up. It costs about $300 to cut each yard about one time.

“I’ll get maybe two cuts out of the year,” he said.

Fearn takes the addresses aldermen give him and he works to track down the owners so he can send out certified letters.

The owners — if found — must clean up their property or face a fee and fines if the city does the work.

Eventually, those properties not cleaned could be determined through a public hearing to be a menace to the public health and safety of the community.

Fearn said public hearings will begin some time in October.

Ward 6 Alderwoman Shelley Harrigill thinks some of the properties wouldn’t need a lot to work to lose that “blighted” designation, like one on Ingram Street in her ward that could use some TLC.

“I wish I could find a group that needs community service hours, like the Boy or Girl Scouts, because for that last one that I mentioned it would just take a little clipping to clean it up and make it look much better, it just needs to have the stalks cut back,” she said. “I wish we could find a group of volunteers to help with these vacant and abandoned properties which could reduce the estimated cost of $10,000. If we could find some people interested in giving of their time to assist with these clean-up efforts it could go along way.”

To report a blighted property, call Brookhaven City Hall at 601-833-2362.