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City official explains condemnation process

By Staff
CONDEMNED n This house at 1923 28th Ave. is one of several awaiting the wrecking ball after being condemned by Meridian's Community Development Department. Photo by Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Jan. 3, 2001
Community Development Director Don Farrar said two houses destroyed by arson last month had been condemned, but had not been placed on the demolition list.
Farrar said the arsons are unrelated to a $200,000 budget cut in his department.
The two houses, at 3919 Valley St. and 3818 South St., burned to the ground in December during a rash of arsons set at unoccupied houses. Another vacant home on Hooper Street suffered heavy damage from an arson, and a house next to the one on South Street was damaged by heat from the blazes.
No one has been charged with setting any of the fires.
The two homes were placed on the city's condemned list in 1999 and were awaiting demolition. The Valley Street home was first placed on the list in May 1999 and the South Street home was listed in November 1999.
Despite a warning from Farrar to the Meridian City Council that cuts to his department's budget in August would decrease the number of house condemnations, he said funding cuts are not to blame for these houses not yet being demolished.
Speculation had arisen that the cuts made by the city council delayed demolition.
Farrar said a common misconception about demolitions is that they happen quickly, when in fact they take "some time."
He said homeowners have to be contacted and given time to bring the property up to code with city ordinances before being placed on the condemned list.
Farrar said bids for demolition work are accepted in groups.
Farrar said his staff determines which structures are in the worst shape and which ones should be demolished first.
Farrar said demolition is expensive. The department recently awarded bids for the demolition of 25 structures in the city. He said an average demolition costs the city about $3,000.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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