“The policy is if you own a substandard house, if you come and apply, the city will waive your permit fees and dump fees,” Director of Planning and Development Services Frederick Gardiner said.
The goal of this policy is to encourage the demolition of substandard houses. Gardiner said many owners of substandard houses do not have the financial means to pay the fees on top of paying to destroy the houses, so waiving the fees will make it easier for these houses to be demolished. Gardiner said this will ultimately save the city money, since substandard houses require the attention of code enforcement, the police and others.
Those interested in applying for their fees to be waived must present proof that the asbestos in their house has been abated, which can be obtained from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
Griffin Board of Commissioners member Dick Morrow supports the measure. He said the city is putting increasing pressure on the owners of substandard property to either improve their properties or tear them down.
Now many owners of substandard properties want to tear them down but cost is an obstacle. By not charging for dumping, the city will encourage people to tear down dilapidated structures.
“In the long run, free dumping doesn’t cost us any money,” he said.
He added that the owners of the houses are still responsible for asbestos abatement and the cost of actually tearing down the houses.
Board of Commissioners member Joanne Todd was more guarded in her comments, although she ultimately voted for reviving the program last Tuesday.
“It (bothers) me that people who own property, that they rent to other people who don’t keep it up,” she said.
Therefore, because they don’t keep it up, it decays and affects the quality of the neighborhood. The incentives the city is giving property owners to demolish properties are costing the taxpayers money, Todd said.
“Any time we give people something for free, it costs the taxpayers,” she said.
She said landlords make a lot of money from renting their property and can afford to take care of it. She said 95 percent of rental property owners in the city take care of their property; it’s only about 5 percent who make things difficult for others.