Run-down DeKalb condo complex given deadline to improve

Residents of a trash-filled and partially burned-down condo complex in DeKalb County are being given 30 days to clean up.

The Brannon Hill homeowners' association and the county agreed in court Thursday to allow the community to remove debris, worn mattresses and tires strewn across parking lots before the government considers stepping in.

Residents said they want a chance to try to fix their problems with the help of volunteers and their neighbors.

“We hope to make a better place to live with our community, with our people and with our families,” said Warsameh Bured, chairman of the condo’s homeowners’ association. “We’ll do it step by step. In these coming months, we will try to do a lot for change.”

DeKalb's government sued in January to ask a judge for permission to intervene at the 368-unit complex, which has been plagued by drugs, gangs and blight. The county was seeking authority to remove trash, clear overgrowth and prevent insect infestations at the condos off Memorial Drive.

Superior Court Judge Gail Flake signed a consent order Thursday declaring common areas of the condos a public nuisance and allowing the homeowners’ association to address dirty areas and dangerous conditions.

“We would like to allow the homeowners’ association to take charge of some of this clean-up themselves, and they’ve shown a willingness to do so,” said Assistant County Attorney Bennett Bryan in court. “We’ve very encouraged by the efforts that have been taken.”

A community clean-up day is scheduled for May 7, and four or five trash bins are being brought to the neighborhood to dispose of litter strewn across parking lots, said Lynn Whatley, an attorney for the homeowners' association. He's also seeking fencing to prevent access to four buildings that have burned down over the years, most recently during a two-alarm fire this month.

“We’ve got to stop the bleeding over there,” Whatley said. “We’re going to attack as many of these problems as we can in these 30 days.”

After that time, Whatley told a judge he’ll submit a list of the community’s accomplishments and next steps.

“I’m happy they’re making efforts to take responsibility for this,” said DeKalb Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton. “To see volunteers come in with resources like heavy equipment, that’s just really fantastic.”