Dalton City Council adopts measure that makes it easier to demolish some unsafe homes

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Jul. 22—A new Dalton city ordinance could speed up the demolition of unsafe houses and save the city money, according to city Public Works Director Andrew Parker.

The City Council voted 4-0 Monday to approve the law. Mayor David Pennington typically votes only if there is a tie.

Before the vote, Parker told council members the law would allow the city to demolish the buildings if three conditions are met.

"No. 1, it has to be a residential property," he said. "No. 2, the person who owns the property will have to sign a consent agreement with the city to provide permission to enter the property to clear the structure. The third condition is that the person repay the city the costs of the demolition, which is typically the landfill tipping fees as well as the costs of any environmental sampling or (hazardous materials) abatement costs."

Parker said this process will save the city the costs of going to court to have such properties condemned.

Council members also voted 4-0 to approve agreements with several organizations to provide them with federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for various projects:

—The Dalton Housing Authority will receive $160,000 to replace the heating and air conditioning systems on its units on Beechland Place.

—City of Refuge Dalton will receive $88,664 to replace half of the roof on its building at the corner of Morris Street and Glenwood Avenue.

—The Latin American Association will receive $21,000 for operating costs for its efforts to help Latino households that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

—The Boys & Girls Club of Whitfield County will receive $20,000 to fund programs for low- to moderate-income teens.

—The Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center will receive $17,500 to help fund a Latino community specialist for domestic violence.

CDBG is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program targeted at urban areas with low incomes and high poverty that funds anti-poverty efforts, infrastructure construction and programs to reduce blight.

The council members voted 4-0 to table proposed changes to the city's unified zoning ordinance with Whitfield County until the county Board of Commissioners has voted on them.

One of the proposed changes would allow residents of properties zoned rural residential (R5) to keep up to four animals that weigh no more than 10 pounds, such as rabbits and chickens (but no roosters), as long as their home sits on a lot of at least two acres. That change specifically excludes the city of Dalton.

Another change would allow workers to store their tools and work vehicles, but no heavy equipment, in their garages at home in places zoned rural residential or general agriculture. That change is expected to have little, if any, impact on Dalton, which has few places with that zoning.

Commissioners are expected to vote on the changes at their Monday, Aug. 9, meeting.

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