City of Albany reminds residents of ongoing photo survey of properties

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Jun. 23—ALBANY — Survey workers taking photos of houses and other properties in the city have caused some concerns, but the photos and notes they are taking are just part of a citywide storm recovery and resiliency study under way, city officials said Thursday.

City staff and Albany police have received calls from curious, and in some cases irate, residents about the activities recently.

"There have been about five or six people who have called my office being concerned or wanting to know what is going on," Albany-Dougherty Planning Director Paul Forgey said. "One or two people complained that people are on their private property."

On Thursday, the city sent out a statement to remind residents about the study being conducted by iVueit, which hires local and commuter "vuers" to conduct the surveys. The workers use cellphones to take photos and fill out an 11-question survey about each property, including vacant lots, residential structures, businesses and other buildings.

The survey will include all of the 33,000 or so structures in the city. The "vuers" are to take photos of the front side of the homes and are not looking to spy into backyards, city officials said.

Among the survey questions are whether the structure is inhabited, the type of siding, whether there is unrepaired storm damage, the number of stories and fire escapes, condition of landscaping, whether there are visible code violations and whether the structure has obvious flood vents.

"I can understand being concerned when you don't know why someone is on or near your property," Forgey said. "It is for the benefit of the city so we can make the right decisions and we can plan and help recover from disasters."

Some of the information the city is hoping for is where vulnerable structures are located and what types of things make them more vulnerable, identifying areas where the city should invest resources and how to be better prepared for future disasters, he said.

"Anyone who is concerned can call my office," Forgey said. "We want to make sure the company doing this is following the rules, and the company wants that also."

One area of confusion could be property rights-of-way. Depending on location, city-owned property may extend 20 or 50 feet into a yard.

The $495,000 survey, which was funded by a grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, also will create a database of all properties in the city.