Last updated: August 20. 2014 3:50AM - 1909 Views
By - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

This vacant house at 145 Orchard St. in Mount Airy is targeted for demolition along with three others in the city limits.
This vacant house at 145 Orchard St. in Mount Airy is targeted for demolition along with three others in the city limits.
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Mount Airy officials are posed to order the demolition of four houses in the city limits which have been ruled unfit for human habitation.

Proposals to have the structures torn down, at a total estimated cost of $39,150, will be considered by the city board of commissioners during a meeting Thursday at 7 p.m.

The structures are located at 145 Orchard St., 923 Carroll St., 719 Worth St. and 506 Kyle St.

City documents regarding the proposed demolitions state that the owners of the dilapidated properties have been given “a reasonable opportunity” to bring the dwellings up to standards of the city’s Minimum Housing Code. But they have failed to comply, prompting the city government to raze the structures.

If the commissioners approve the demolition of those now targeted, nine will have been torn down since September 2012.

A move to better enforce regulations against substandard housing has been a city government goal recently, with commissioners citing safety concerns as the main motivation. After years of relative neglect, officials decided in 2012 to launch a more aggressive stance for ongoing problems with such housing, particularly vacant, abandoned structures.

And during a meeting this past February, the majority of city council members expressed support for ramping up enforcement actions even more, including foreclosure proceedings in court.

Mount Airy’s enforcement process is complaint-driven through calls from citizens, a city planner has said.

In the city’s 2014-2015 budget, $115,000 was earmarked for the stepped-up enforcement of minimum housing violations. That sum included one extra day per week of code enforcement by a private firm contracted to supply planning services to the city government. It also will cover legal and administrative fees for court actions that arise and demolitions of substandard structures not repaired.

This partly arose from concerns by some on the board that complaints about substandard housing haven’t been processed quickly enough.

The costs of removing the houses to be considered for demolition Thursday night will constitute a lien against the real property involved, which is a way for the municipality to recoup those expenses. Any materials that can be salvaged for sale will be credited against those expenses.

Mount Airy officials have shown a willingness to work with property owners, including allowing more time for them to bring houses up to code or remove the structures themselves. But they have said those with problem sites need to know that the city government is serious about alleviating major housing code violations.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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