By Stan Welch
At a recent budget workshop of the Anderson County Council, the issue of dilapidated housing and removal came up. Barry Holcombe, county building and codes manager, explained under questioning from Councilwoman Gracie Floyd that there are nearly 140 such properties known to the county.
Floyd pointed out that the County only allocates fifteen thousand dollars a year to address the problem. “While many of these properties( 42 according to Holcombe’s official list) are in my district, they are in every other district as well. We need to work on getting these ugly and unsafe houses and building torn down.”
Holcombe pointed out that under the best of circumstances, i.e. an easily found and verified property owner, who lives in the county, it takes at least six months to complete the legal process and begin actual demolition. If a property owner fights the condemnation or is an absentee owner, that time span can easily triple.
Because of that, Councilman Tommy Dunn encouraged Floyd’s efforts and expressed his desire to see the Council give the county attorney more tools to work with in addressing the legal issues and liabilities.
“We need to understand that these buildings are not only ugly eyesores, but very real safety and health issues too.”
The Journal, through a Freedom of Information Act request, has obtained a copy of the list of substandard housing, as it is called.
The four Districts in the Journal’s coverage area, Districts Three, Four, Six and Seven, have a total of 64 units, with more than half of those (35) appearing in Councilman Eddie Moore’s District Three.
Council Chairman Tom Allen has nine in his District while Councilman Ken Waters, District Six, and Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, District Seven, each have ten. The majority of the addresses listed in District Six are in the Piedmont area. Two of them are homes that burned and have been left as the firemen left them.
In District Seven, the majority of sites are Belton addresses, but are not in the town limits, since Belton was gerrymandered into District Three years ago.
West Pelzer has experienced the hassles involved in demolishing unsafe or abandoned homes, as well as simply cleaning up overgrown and unsightly lots within the town’s limits.
The Town Council struggled for several months in crafting an ordinance that will allow the town to perform such work itself and bill the property owner, placing a tax lien against the property until the costs are paid.
They recently deeded a small parcel of land containing an abandoned mobile home to the adjacent property owners in exchange for them clearing off the lot.