A task force of police, residents, prosecutors and government employees has been working to find solutions, said DeKalb Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton.
“This is the first time anybody has had any success with tackling the problem of Brannon Hill,” Sutton said. “It’s just the right thing to do to clean up that blight over there so that those residents will have a suitable place to live.”
Property owners in fire-damaged buildings at the complex have 60 days to demolish or clean up the structures before DeKalb’s government steps in.
“The people who are suffering are the people who live in here now,” said Warsameh Bured, who sits on Brannon Hills’ temporary board of directors. “It’s our government, and we need something bigger than us to help the people.”
The “deplorable conditions” at Brannon Hill make it a public nuisance that justifies government action, Adams’ order said.
One of the buildings doesn’t have a roof, and its walls have been damaged by repeated fires. Another building is uninhabitable after two units caught fire in February 2014. The remaining two buildings were completely destroyed, leaving piles of garbage covering their foundations.
DeKalb may file a lien on the properties to recover demolition costs.
Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May called the court’s action “a big step in the right direction.”
“This order puts Brannon Hill’s owners on notice to improve the property, or DeKalb County has the authority to step in,” May said in a statement. “We have been working diligently for years to clean up Brannon Hill and other blighted communities.”
The county can work only on buildings damaged or destroyed by fire, according to the judge’s order. The government isn’t allowed to clean up the entire property.