DeKalb’s war on blight: Nearly 300 properties demolished
DeKalb County demolished 31 properties in 2018, including 521 Warren Avenue, Scottdale, GA. The Demolitions and Abatements Task Force was established to create a coordinated and expedited approach to wipe out blight in DeKalb. Photos provided

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DeKalb County demolished 31 properties in 2018, including 521 Warren Avenue, Scottdale, GA. The Demolitions and Abatements Task Force was established to create a coordinated and expedited approach to wipe out blight in DeKalb. Photos provided
DeKalb County demolished 31 properties in 2018, including 521 Warren Avenue, Scottdale, GA. The Demolitions and Abatements Task Force was established to create a coordinated and expedited approach to wipe out blight in DeKalb. Photos provided

Since January 2017, DeKalb County’s blight remediation program has demolished or abated 292 vacant, abandoned or poorly maintained properties. The county’s efforts to eradicate blight has increased seven-fold from the previous year, 2016. 

In 2019, the county plans to conduct a first-ever comprehensive study of blighted properties in DeKalb. Approximately 139,000 parcels will be reviewed.

“Fighting blight and beautifying DeKalb County improves quality of life and the health of our citizens,” said CEO Michael Thurmond. “The county has significantly increased our efforts to revitalize DeKalb by dedicating funding for blight programs and enhancing our partnership with the judicial system.”  

DeKalb Blight Remediation Program Gets Results

DeKalb County Demolition and Abatement Properties

                             2016      2017        2018 (YTD)

Demolitions     36           105            31

Abatements      7              48              108

Total                   43           153             139

At the beginning of 2017, Thurmond allocated $3.8 million in funds approved by the Board of Commissioners to enhance blight-fighting initiatives and address derelict properties in DeKalb. Additional improvements include: 

Stronger Judicial Partnership

The DeKalb Magistrate Court and the Solicitor-General’s office created blight programs. Chief Magistrate Judge Berryl Anderson formed a three-judge Magistrate Court Ordinance Division to review cases involving properties that have failed to improve despite repeated citations. Judge Anderson also implemented a monthly schedule to target dilapidated properties that receive numerous code citations, granting the county court order to take action on properties not returned to code. Solicitor-General Donna Coleman-Stribling formed the Quality of Life Unit, which is responsible for the prosecution of all cases involving code violations, blight, nuisance and other issues plaguing communities.

New Beautification Division Leadership

Timothy Hardy was appointed as the deputy director of beautification over code compliance in August 2018. 

Increased Code Enforcement Staffing 

The county hired 11 new officers to enforce codes and ordinances related to property maintenance, zoning, planning, special land use, signs and permits in August 2018. 

Operation Clean Sweep started in March 2017

Operation Clean Sweep has removed 5,647 bags of loose litter, 4,366 tons of debris and serviced 205 illegal dump sites. 

Demolition and Abatement Task Force

The task force was created in January 2017 to share information, coordinate enforcement efforts and collaborate on initiatives to reduce blighted properties. Representatives of law, planning and sustainability, community development, Keep DeKalb Beautiful, code enforcement, sanitation and the GIS department meet regularly.

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