Blighted property in Columbus causing safety concerns

Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 10:11 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Hundreds of properties are deemed blighted in Columbus.

In District 4 of Columbus, nine houses are on the demo list, 20 houses with active property maintenance cases and 26 special enforcement cases.

Residents in the Georgetown neighborhood say one house is so bad that they fear for their safety.

“I am constantly looking into my security cameras to see if something is going on, if they’re coming by my cars because there was a point where they were coming over across the street and breaking into cars,” said nearby resident Lachelle Griffin.

“It is affecting my property value and it is affecting some of my neighbor’s property value,” said another nearby resident, Kenneth Witcher.

904 Arlington Drive has been vacant for over five years. Besides the trash in the yard, overgrown shrubbery that attracts wild animals, and the boarded-up windows, it still attracts a hoard of people who continue to break and enter.

“The owner was a military member stationed overseas and this home has been neglected for over eight years,” said District 4 Councilwoman Toyia Tucker.

Just minutes after interviewing nearby residents, multiple people went back and took down the boards that sealed the windows and doors shut, illustrating the need that the house needs to be demolished.

“Try and contact the owners of the property,” local resident Deborah Coleman suggested. “If they don’t want it, I know the city will tear it down, but once again, it is going to come out of my pocket in taxes.”

According to Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson, his office earmarked $500,000 last year to demolish blighted properties like this one, but then the pandemic struck, causing a setback.

“We scaled that back to $250,000 when COVID hit,” Henderson said. " I am told it would take almost $1 million to get us to ground zero to take care of everything and get all of the blighted properties.”

According to the Columbus Building Inspections and Code Enforcement Department, there are over 300 of these properties that are deemed blighted.

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