BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More than a dozen homes have been demolished this year by the Department of Public Works. Even more are on a waiting list to be taken down. It's a process that can sometimes take months, or years, for the city to do away with some of the worst homes that are still standing.
Take a trip through North Baton Rouge and you might stumble upon houses that are falling apart or in shambles, waiting to be put out of its misery. Turn down Cadillac Street and you'll find a home was leveled by fire, not far from it another home sits with boarded up windows and doors. Empty, abandoned homes are not uncommon around the metro area - just ask Wayne Roberts.
"I really feel like because we're not in the ritzy area, it doesn't matter to the city," Roberts said, when he spoke with us on Monday about the house next door to him in Villa Del Rey. He says a fire ripped through the house last October. The people moved out but dumpster's full of trash are still there along with a nasty green pool and now rats and snakes.
"I consider it an abandoned property," Roberts said.
Requests to tear down abandoned and blighted properties first go to David Guillory, the Interim Director of the Department of Public Works. His office recommends that homes be torn down, but the Metro Council has the final say and things can sometimes move slowly.
"The list at this particular time has 40 to 50 structures on it. We've taken down 30 or so this year," Guillory said. He says last year the city demolished 80 structures.
He says part of the hold up comes in tracking down the owner of the property. Legally they must try twice to make contact and give that person time to address the violations. He says in some cases out-of-state companies own the homes or family members have been willed a home and don't know it.
At any rate if no one complies, the council gets the final say.
Guillory says the council acted on the latest properties at Wednesday's meeting.
"We may have had 10 to 12 properties, 8 got condemned," Guillory says of the council's actions at that meeting.
As for Roberts, he says after our story aired Monday about the blighted property next to him, the dumpster's were hauled away, the city's mosquito and rodent control came to spray and set traps and on Thursday, the city told him they've given the owner until May 22 to clean up.
Guillory says the houses with the most damage are the ones they tear down first. It costs the city between $3,000-$7,000 to demolish a house, depending on the structure.