City leaders have repeatedly caught grief from their push to condemn and demolish abandoned houses and clean up derelict property.
But less than four hours after putting five properties on notice for cleanup and demolition, a fire at an abandoned home on Cherry Street lit up the sky in south Clarksdale and scorched nearby homes.
The city has embarked on a program to clean up overgrown property and even demolish abandoned homes. The city either sends in crews to mow and clean the property or hires crews to demolish the structures, haul off the debris and bring in fill dirt.
The city then sends the property owner a bill and places a lien on their property. The lien prevents the property from being sold before the bill is paid.
The process that leads to demolition is lengthy and can take up to six months.
City ordinance enforcement officers post notices on the building and determine who is paying taxes on the property.
In cases where a property owner can’t be identified, or taxes on the property have not been paid, the city can be condemned.
City ordinances also allow the city to demolish an empty building if it is deemed a public nuisance, a health concern or fire hazard.
Since Commissioners and the Mayor began the effort to deal with dilapidated property more than 250 properties have been cleaned up or demolished.
Most the work is being paid for by a $50,000 grant obtained from the Walton Foundation.