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Macon Council Investigating More Ways to Fix Blight | News

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Macon Council Investigating More Ways to Fix Blight
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There are 476 vacant homes on the city's demolition to-do list and over 100 more vacant lots ready for clearing.

That doesn't include the number of abandoned properties that laws prevent the city of Macon from doing anything about.

City officials say that's a situation they are trying to change.

"Unfortunately, there is a different scenario for every property and just because that property has not been torn down next to you, does not necessarily mean that we do not have a code violation listed for that property. There's several different factors from bankruptcy to foreclosure issues that we're actually dealing with in the community," says Wanzina Jackson, director of Economic and Community Development.

Council member Tom Ellington says, "We've got an obvious problem with blight in the city. You don't have to drive very far to see examples of that. What we've already gotten evidence of is that lending institutions are playing some role in making that worse."

City leaders say sometimes that's because of a miscommunication between banks and property owners.

"There are a number of instances in which people have moved out of homes because they received a letter initiating foreclosure," says Ellington. "They get out because they want to leave while they have the opportunity to get out without having all of their possessions put on the curb, and then they find out a year or two or three or four years later that in fact the foreclosure was never filed, and so the bank is not on the record as the holder of that deed. So we end up with basically a mess on our hands."

In some cases, a mix-up like that leads to property taxes piling up. That mess becomes even bigger when finding the owner turns into nothing more than a wild goose chase.

City council members say the longer the house sits untouched, the more the entire neighborhood feels the effects including declining property values.

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