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City Council and Downtown Development Authority to hold joint meeting

Cairo City Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas urged his fellow councilmen to consider having a joint work session with members of the Downtown Development Authority to work on plans to promote and develop the central business district.
Douglas said he attended a breakout session on Downtown Development at the recent Georgia Municipal Association’s Mayor’s Day conference in Atlanta.
According to Douglas, there was a lot he learned that he did not know and he suggested there was a lot the council and DDA needed to know in order to be more effective in their mission.
“I’d like to sit down with the DDA. We are about to go into budget season and I’d like to find out what they need us to do to help them for whatever we need to do for downtown,” Douglas said.
The councilman suggested anything that the DDA may need funding for should be considered and discussed so that, if the city can afford it, funds could be appropriated in the 2019-2020 budget.
Councilman Douglas also shared with the council Monday night information about the approach that Colquitt County and Moultrie are taking regarding the battle over blight.
According to Douglas, Moultrie has passed an ordinance that conforms with state law and it allows the city to increase the tax rate on blighted properties in order to attempt to force property owners to clean up, repair or bring their property in compliance with city codes.
Douglas said such an approach would put “teeth” into what the city is trying to do here with eliminating blight.
Councilman Jerry Cox questioned what, if anything, could the city do about a northwest home that had been damaged approximately 10 years ago and has been abandoned ever since. Cox said the owners do just enough to “get by” but he asked if the city could take additional action.
“It is secured and boarded up. There really is nothing else we can do about it,” city manager Chris Addleton said.
City attorney Thomas L. Lehman said the city code focuses on health and safety hazards. “We can’t tell them they have to live or not live in the house, but I get where you are coming from,” Lehman said.
Mayor Booker Gainor said that he was aware of a burned out mobile home that had been abandoned for 10 or 12 years, but that it is not boarded up or secure.
“That is something we could enforce,” Lehman said and Addleton requested the mayor share the address and he would have the Building Department respond.
“So, if I’m asked, the city has done all it can do about the situation?” Cox asked in reference to the northwest Cairo home.
Lehman indicated yes, but said that subdivision regulations or covenants might be an option neighboring residents could explore and seek to enforce.

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