County suing Brannon Hill condos over blight
Cross Roads News
Jennifer French-Parker
29 January 2016

DeKalb County (Georgia) is suing the owners of Brannon Hill Condominiums in Clarkston to make changes at the trash-ridden complex that is home to about 100 people.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the filing of a lawsuit at its Jan. 26 meeting. It is asking DeKalb Superior Court to declare the complex “a public nuisance.”

The lawsuit seeks to clear the way for the county to use its resources to remove mountains of debris, eradicate rodents, and cut overgrowth from the complex common areas.

Many of the owners have abandoned their units

Brannon Hill Condominiums, which has more than 100 separate property owners, was built in 1973. About 162 of its 369 units – average size of 1,440 square feet – have been damaged by fire, and more than 70 others are unoccupied. Many of the owners have abandoned their units and cannot be found, leaving the condominium association without the funds to clean up the complex and make repairs.

It is now a crime-ridden community well-known by police and county officials.

Open-air drug dealing, gang warfare, arson, squatting, and killings are commonplace at the complex at 6524 Brannon Hill Road near Memorial Drive in unincorporated Clarkston.

Code violations range from peeling sidings, rotten wood, broken windows, decrepit balconies, structural instability, exposed outlets and wires, holes in the roofs and walls, missing doors, bullet holes, unsecured units, unlicensed vehicles, and burned-down buildings. Because it is privately owned, county officials cannot go into units unless invited.

As problems mounted in the early 2000s, owners and renters who could moved away and the complex has been left mostly with immigrants, primarily from the East African country of Somalia, who live there because the units were affordable and close to the nearby city of Clarkston’s refugee community.

The county said that it was unable to rectify the situation without suing because the condominiums are privately owned and code violations exist on private property.

District 4 Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, who convened a working group to address the problem in December 2014, applauded the move.

“This lawsuit gives us the legal authority we need to get to work,” she said after the vote.

Barnes Sutton said that reaching a consensus on the issue required vision and the cooperative commitment of many individuals working toward a common purpose.

District 7 Commissioner Stan Watson, who also represents the area, said that once the courts give the green light, the county can make some significant improvements to the health and well-being of this community very rapidly.

“If we are successful in our endeavors here, the same strategy can be applied to other areas of the county where we have community blight issues,” Watson said.

While cleanup of the debris is important, District 6 Commissioner Kathie Gannon said the county also needs to address the standing remnants of burned and dilapidated buildings that are uninhabitable.

“As we move forward, we need to address the buildings and the relocation of residents who want to find other housing alternatives,” Gannon said.

declare the condominium’s common areas a public nuisance

The lawsuit is asking Superior Court to declare the condominium’s common areas a public nuisance and to give the county the authority to abate conditions by removing trash like rubbish, commercial debris, laundry waste, garbage in standing water, tire piles and other waste conducive to attracting mosquitoes, rats and flies.

The county also wants to cut and clear overgrowth and take steps to control the spread of rats, feral cats, insects and other harmful animals. The suit also is seeking reimbursement from the condo association.


Run-down DeKalb condos will be destroyed
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Mark Niesse 
21 November 2016

A judge has authorized the demolition of four burned-down buildings at Brannon Hill condos, which has earned a reputation for intractable blight and poverty in DeKalb County.

The dilapidated buildings can be destroyed, eliminating public health dangers to the community, according to DeKalb Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams’ order Nov. 15. The broken-down structures are a haven for squatters, gangs and drug abusers.

DeKalb’s government sued this year for permission to intervene at Brannon Hill, where more than 100 people live in the community near Memorial Drive and the city of Clarkston.

“This is the first time anybody has had any success with tacking the problem of Brannon Hill,” said DeKalb Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton. “It’s just the right thing to do to clean up that blight over there so that those residents will have a suitable place to live.”

The judge’s order gives the condo’s property owners 60 days to demolish and clean up the properties before the county can move in.

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May called the action “a big step in the right direction.”

“This order puts Brannon Hill’s owners on notice to improve the property, or DeKalb County has the authority to step in,” May said in a statement. “We have been working diligently for years to clean up Brannon Hill and other blighted communities.”

top  contents  chapter  previous  next