Long Beach develops plan to target neglected properties - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Long Beach develops plan to target neglected properties

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Long Beach residents tired of seeing overgrown lots may soon get some relief. Mayor Billy Skellie said it's been difficult to crack down on people who neglect their properties at a time when the city doesn't have the cash for extra manpower. But now, the city now has a plan.

Overgrown grass. Damaged pilings. Dead trees. Long Beach Building Code Official Earl Levens said it's the same story for far too many properties near the beachfront.

"The beachfront was pretty much older community," said Levens. "They just don't have the energy to rebuild. It's just tough trying to find them."

This week, city officials made some changes in the code office to help speed up the process of getting property owners to clean up.

"We've got a plan together where we use in-house people that are already working for the city to be able to be able to devote more time to it," Mayor Billy Skellie said. "We have with some adjustments in some of their duties. We hope it works. We think it will."

Slabs are a huge problem in Long Beach. That's why officials want property owners to know that if they had flood insurance, they may be eligible for money from the Increased Cost of Compliance program to help remove the slab.

"Any time your house is below base flood or in the flood plane there an up to $30,000 amount that can be used to help you elevate your home to get it out of the flood plane," said Levens. "They're using some of that $30,000 to demo these slabs, get them out. If they're not planning on building back, then they have a clean lot that's worth more that they can use to resell."

Levens said people who choose to rebuild will have to deduct the cost of removing the slab from the $30,000.

City officials say removing slabs and cleaning up properties are key steps to attracting investors and improving the quality of life for the people who call Long Beach home.

Building Code officials also plan to use a spreadsheet program to improve their ability to track problem properties and gather evidence for court proceedings.

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