Augusta, GA (WJBF) – One of the thousands of abandoned lots in Augusta is right next to Wayne Canty’s house. Three overgrown lots surround his house and he says it’s a blight on the neighborhood. “It brings down, definitely, the value of it. We definitely need to get it cut. I don’t know if the owners, or the city, are going to come out and cut it,” he said.
Debra Workman says she and her neighbors have complained about the lots near their homes, but she says nothing seems to get done. “You call the 3-1-1, the 6-1-1…you call all the numbers. They always tell you they will get back to you. Of course, I haven’t gotten my first phone call, I’ve called about six or seven times.”
After getting complaints, the city notifies the owner the property that needs to be cut and the owner gets two weeks to take care of it. If not, the city can cut it and bill the owner. “After 14 days, nothing has been done, then we can step in. We need a shorter process, the process needs to be shorter,” said Augusta Commissioner Bill Fennoy.
Debra Coleman owns a dozen properties in Augusta. She’s never been notified about an overgrown lot, but she says she believes property owners need some time before the city acts. “I would want to have a notice. Actually, I don’t think 14 days are too long. I think 30 days would be too long.”
But, whatever the city policy, many residents feel this is a problem that will continue to grow. “There’s snakes and stuff, it’s possums. You ought to see the rats that come out of that stuff. We live here,” said Workman.
The Augusta Commission did approve a change to the lot clearing policy last year. Property owners still get a 14 notice to cut the lot, on the first complaint. However, if there are additional complaints, the city does not have to notify the owner before cutting it and billing the owner.