Neighbors have safety concerns after crew begins demolishing Peoplestown homes at night

·2 min read

A long-running property fight in the Peoplestown neighborhood, spanning multiple mayoral administrations in Atlanta, is finally over. But now a new problem has emerged.

A homeowner in the Fulton County neighborhood gave Channel 2′s Bryan Mims a video that shows a house demolition going on at night.

The work involves installing a flood control project in the Peoplestown neighborhood in Southeast Atlanta, where several homes must be torn down. That demolition crew cut a gas line Wednesday, and neighbors say the nighttime work put the community in danger.

Ben Sian, who lives across Ormond Street, recorded a video showing a front-end loader plowing into the house after dark, using only a truck’s headlights for illumination. At one point, Sian says, the crew hits a gas line, before sparks fly from a live electrical wire.

“They didn’t disable the power. They didn’t turn off the gas,” Sian said. “You could smell gas all the way down the street.”

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Firefighters showed up to contain the gas leak, though no homes were evacuated. Now there’s a “Stop Work” sign from the city posted out front. The sign says that the contractor must “provide plans, install silt controls and meet the inspector.”

“It seems pretty unsafe,” Sian said of the night demolition. “I guess (it was) to avoid inspectors, to avoid prying eyes, to avoid questions. Honestly, I don’t know.”

He says he thinks the contractor may have been avoiding proper asbestos removal.

Channel 2 Action News called the contractor Kissberg Construction in Stone Mountain multiple times, but messages were not returned. Records show the city has paid the company more than $7 million in services since 2018.

The city’s Department of Watershed Management sent Channel 2 Action News a statement that it’s investigating Wednesday night’s demolition.

“The Department of Watershed Management did not authorize or approve for work to begin and immediately issued a Stop Work Order and Notice of Noncompliance to the contractor,” the statement says. “No work will be performed without permission and under the supervision of the Department.”

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Sian says the workers put themselves and the entire neighborhood at risk.

“If you’re gonna do it, do it right, instead of trying to make a quick buck,” Sian said. “These guys were caught red-handed. I’m hoping they’ll be fined, and there’ll be consequences to it.”

Scheree Rawles, a spokesperson for the Department of Watershed Management, says the city is hiring another contractor to complete the work. But the replacement contractor would only begin work next week, at the earliest.

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