DeKalb County Magistrate Court starts initiative to resolve damaged property cases

Posted by Mary Margaret Stewart September 20, 2017

From left, DeKalb County Magistrate Court Ordinance Judges Matthew McCoyd, Hollie Manheimer and September Guy. Photo provided by DeKalb County

DeKalb County Magistrate Court has launched a new court to improve the “quality of life” for local county residents by forcing neglectful property owners to clean up their act.

According to a press release from the county, Chief DeKalb Magistrate Judge Berryl Anderson has been working in tandem with other officials make a court “calendar that targets abandoned, dilapidated and burned-out properties presenting a danger to the citizens of DeKalb.”

Once a month the Magistrate’s Court Ordinance Division will hear cases about properties have received several citations from the DeKalb County Code Enforcement.

The three judges who will hear these cases are Supervising Ordinance Judge Hollie Manheimer, Judge September Guy, and Judge Matthew McCoyd.

“Under final orders from these judges, property owners will be required to repair or demolish these dangerous properties,” the press release says.

Under the new initiative, if the owner does not repair or demolish the property, the county will have the authority to tear down the properties at the county’s expense and ask the property owner for reimbursement.

“We have long been plagued in DeKalb County with problems created by these troublesome properties. In the past, there was not much that could be done unless the properties’ owners could be found,” Chief Judge Anderson said in a recent press release. “This initiative allows the county to move forward with taking down these properties regardless of whether the owners respond to court orders. We can protect the rights of homeowners while making sure the neglect of their property does not undermine the quality of life in DeKalb.”

Chief Judge Anderson said in the release that the judges are “sensitive to the rights of property owners.”

“In each instance the judges will follow a strict procedural safeguard checklist to ensure that property rights are protected,” the press release says. “In each instance, notice is sent to all interested parties, including property owners, homeowners, mortgage holders and renters.”

The first 10 cases were heard on Aug. 24. Three hearings resulted in a demolition order unless there was an immediate remedy.

The cases will be heard at 2 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Camp Circle Courthouse Complex, Courtroom E, 3630 Camp Circle in Decatur.

The second day of cases will be held tomorrow, Sept. 21. These hearings are all open to the public.

“The Court anticipates that as many as 25 cases will be reviewed at any of these hearings,” the press release says.

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