BUILDING RAZES THE ROOF FOR COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT

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The City’s focus on quality of life through safe, affordable housing has been the driving factor in improving many neighborhoods throughout Thomasville. The City of Thomasville’s Building Department has accomplished this through the process of renovation and, in worst-case scenarios, demolition of blighted, substandard structures. So far this year, three homes have been demolished with an additional six being permitted for demolition and another three homes being slated for renovation.

Chief Building Official Mark Harmon said that these homes are some of the most hazardous in the community and bring down the aesthetics of the surrounding neighborhood.

"In several cases, we have been contacted by citizens who are seeking help in getting these blighted structures removed from their neighborhoods," said Chief Building Official Mark Harmon. "We have been able to successfully partner with property owners who have been very welcoming for the help the City has provided in cleaning up these lots."

Peter Augusta, who was born and raised in Thomasville, said that he was very pleased that the City approached his family about working to remove his aunt’s home on Smalls Lane.

“It was time for this house to be gone,” Augusta said. “The house was in bad condition, so we moved my aunt out. The house was uninhabited, and a lot of things were going on there that didn’t need to be happening.”

“As far as these types of houses are concerned, if the City can help, I’m all for it,” he added.

In 2015, the Building Department had a list of 15 homes that did not meet minimum maintenance standards and were deemed as unfit buildings. After a more thorough assessment of the community, that list grew to identify 492 homes that potentially did not meet minimum maintenance standards. Last year, 29 structures were either rehabilitated or demolished.

“Our goal is always to renovate, rather than demolish; however, some of these homes are so far beyond repair that the only feasible course of action is to take them down,” Harmon said.

Chief of Police Troy Rich said that the Building Department's work had the full support of TPD.

"Removing these structures helps to reduce crime by eliminating habitats for criminal activities, such as drug use," Rich said. “Not only do these structures provide a breeding ground for criminal activity, but they pose a safety hazard to the officers who have to respond to complaints about this activity.”

“I’m 100 percent supportive of the work that’s being done as it is very important to improving the quality of life in our community,” Rich added.