DeKalb Magistrate Court launches initiative to clean up blight

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DeKalb Magistrate Court launches initiative to clean up blight

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DeKalbCounty magistrate court ordinance judges (l to r) Matthew McCoyd, Hollie Manheimer, September Guy.

Chief DeKalb Magistrate Judge Berryl A. Anderson recently announced the formation of a new court effort to improve the quality of life for residents of DeKalb County. In conjunction with other county officials, Judge Anderson has created a calendar that targets abandoned, dilapidated and burned-out properties presenting a danger to the citizens of DeKalb.

Under this initiative, once per month, the judges of the Magistrate’s Court Ordinance Division hear cases in which properties have been cited for multiple citations by DeKalb County Code Enforcement without corrective measures being taken by property owners. Under final orders from these judges, property owners will be required to repair or demolish these dangerous properties.

The key difference with treatment of these cases now is that if the owner does not repair or demolish as required, the county will be allowed to tear down these properties at county expense. DeKalb County can then in turn collect the costs of demolition from the property owner.

Supervising Ordinance Judge Hollie Manheimer, along with Judges September Guy and Matthew McCoyd, will hear these cases. These three judges were appointed by Chief Judge Anderson in May 2015 after the responsibility for ordinance violations in DeKalb County was shifted by statute to the Magistrate Court. The Ordinance Division hears cases involving code enforcement, animal control and ordinance violations, as well as the new cases that are labeled nuisance abatement cases.

The first of these calendars took place on Aug. 24. Three of the ten cases heard resulted in orders for the demolition of those properties unless the property owner takes immediate steps to make improvements. Another three cases revealed the owners had remedied some of the cited violations; in one instance the property was so improved that the Code Enforcement Officer recommended the action be dismissed.

These hearings will be held at 2 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at 3630 Camp Circle, Decatur, in the Camp Circle Courthouse Complex, Courtroom E. The public is invited to attend. The Court anticipates that as many as 25 cases will be reviewed at any of these hearings.

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