Paragould Mayor: condemning homes "ongoing, never ending" problem

Paragould Mayor: condemning homes "ongoing, never ending" problem
The Paragould City Council condemned three homes Monday night and it appears squatters may have been living in some of them.
According to reports from the city inspector’s office, none of the homes that were up for condemnation had electricity or water running to them.
However, mattresses, leftover food and drinks were found in the homes. Photos provided to the council were taken in late April and late June of 2015.
"It tells you that they're being used by somebody somewhere," Mayor Mike Gaskill said. "It concerns the neighbors and neighborhoods because they're concerned about seeing people go in and out of them and wonder what they're doing."
The condemned homes were located at 501 East Main Street, 215 South 5th Avenue and 502 North 15th Avenue.
Mayor Gaskill told Region 8 News that the city has become more proactive in addressing these dilapidated homes recently because they often become a nuisance and a safety hazard.

"Windows a lot of times are gone, there's no doors on them, and it keeps the houses or the buildings open for people to come in and out of them for whatever reason that may be," Mayor Gaskill said. "By them being there, they can be a harm to the community or the neighborhood."

Even after the home is condemned by the city council, property owners do have a chance to obtain a permit and begin work to rehabilitate the home. Gaskill said because of that, some of the homes that were condemned in the past have received an extra lease on life.

“We have had a couple that have got building permits             and have gone in after the condemnation, they would go in and start doing some upgrading and then quit,” Mayor Gaskill said. “The building permit goes on for about a year so right now we have to kindly wait and see.”
If no more work is done though, either the property owner or city will come in and tear it down.
Mayor Gaskill explained that the city has also done a better job of making owners pay for razing their property.
"They also realize too that when we take them down, there's a lien placed on their property taxes for the cost that it costs us and a lot of times, they can get it done cheaper than we can," Mayor Gaskill explained.
Mayor Gaskill told Region 8 News that while they wish property owners would just fix their homes back up to code, they will continue condemning properties if they have to.
"We're trying to get clean-ups done all over town and it's just an ongoing, never ending thing," Mayor Gaskill said.

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