County office using state law for private properties

Published 10:26 am Tuesday, April 17, 2018

County office using state law for private properties

Chad Meek, Panola County Land Development officer, stands beside the sign he posted recently on Sardis Lake Dr., giving notification of the demolition of a dilapidated house and the cleaning of the private property. Additional picture on page A3.

The Panola County Board of Supervisors, through its Land Development Office, has taken another step in its efforts to clean up the county
Chad Meek, who heads the Land Development office, last week oversaw the demolition of a dilapidated house on Sardis Lake Drive – the first time the county has used Mississippi law to clean up private property.
Meek said his office had received numerous complaints about the dilapidated property near Cole’s Point, and used state law to have the property cleaned.
“We are trying to enforce these laws once we have complaints and go through all the legal paperwork that is required,” Meek said.
The process is a long one, and requires Meek to send letters, post notices, and acquire affidavits attesting to the condition of such properties.
Once an owner of a piece of property is notified of the county’s intent to have the property cleaned, a waiting period is allowed for the owner to address the property and hopefully bring it back to code.
Often, though, property owners are absentee owners, or are unwilling to bring the property up to code.
After the time required by law has passed, Meek can present his findings to the Board of Supervisors and ask them to declare the property a public nuisance, and take quotes for the cleaning.
Meek said he asked local contractors for quotes to demolish the house and remove all debris from the property. The lowest quote in this case came from Brocato Construction of Batesville. Costs for the clean-up was just less than $6,0000 and that bill will be added as a lien on the tax roll for the address.
Additionally, Meek said, the county is allowed to add $1,500 or up to half the cost for the clean-up to the tax roll.
The county will re-coup its money when the property is sold, and the new owner pays the tax bill.
“One of the real problems I had with this property was finding contractors who were qualified to do the demolition, and remove the debris as required by the law,” Meek said. “Mississippi code requires contractors to be certified to do this kind of work, including full insurance and bonds.”
Meek said this pilot project helped his office, and supervisors, understand what is necessary from a legal standpoint to clean private property, and hopes the process will be easier as officials learn the proper procedures.
“We will limit these kinds of complete tear-downs and clean-ups to the properties that are really dilapidated and causing a direct effect on someone else’s property,” Meek said.
He said the Land Development Office will attack other un-repairable properties in the county based on the order of the complaints received and the severity of the problem area.
“We know it’s going to take some time to get Panola County cleaned up, but this is just one more step to reaching that goal,” Meek said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox