Pascagoula Leaders Talk About Commercial Demolition Delays

"It's a danger to the public because they are opened and unsecured," Pascagoula Building Official Steve Mitchell says as he enters on of the Live Oaks Apartment. "Every roof on every building out here leaks, there's mold on the inside."

That's why Mitchell says the Live Oak Apartments, like dozens of other condemned structures in the city, need to be torn down. But getting permission, he says, isn't easy.

"Some of these properties we do not have a Right of Entry form on them, so we'd have to get forced police action on them. That would take time."

Which would mean they probably wouldn't make the March 15th deadline.

Mayor Mathew Avara says the Belair Shopping Center falls into that same category.

"We don't necessarily have the resources to go in and tear these properties down," Avara says.

He says that would cost a million dollars for the city to do it.

"So if we don't get the extension, then the money's not going to come through the federal level."

Avara says the rules need to stop changing too. Right now there are about 40 businesses in Pascagoula that need to be demolished.

The property owners have already filled out the Right of Entry forms, but the Corps says only 17 of those will be torn down because the rest of the forms were turned in by the mid-November deadline.

But Avara says the city didn't even know about the deadline until it was too late.

"We were about three weeks late getting our letter," Avara says. So we really don't think it's fair."

Right now the city is fighting to get those business right of entry forms approved through the corps.

"And we're going to ask for, hope for, and pray for an extension on the March 15th deadline," Mitchell says.

If that doesn't happen, Avara says we could get stuck looking at condemned properties for years to come.

Both Avara and Mitchell hope the deadline is extended to June 15th. They say all of the city's demolition and cleanup should be done by that date.