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Sugar Hill condemns house

SUGAR HILL -- More residents than typical attended Sugar Hill City Council's monthly meeting Monday night, mostly to urge the council to perform one of its more distasteful acts.

After hearing from several neighbors, the council voted unanimously to condemn Swain Stewart's residence at 1305 Hidden Circle, rejecting Stewart's request that the council postpone doing so.

"This is the worst thing I have to do," said city building inspector Burny Agee, whose decision to condemn the residence the city upheld. "It's very distasteful, having to take somebody's property."

Agee used pictures to chronicle for the council months of inspections of Stewart's property and its dilapidation. He showed pictures of its roof partially collapsed, floor coverings and sub-flooring full of mold and rotten, and fascia rotted off. Specifically, he presented a timeline of developments since July, but said complaints from neighbors began years earlier.

Several residents expressed concern not only about the vacant home's collapse, but also about environmental risks of mold and rodents.

Stewart, whose issue was postponed when he said he unexpectedly had to leave the council's monthly planning session last week, did not appear Monday. The council chose to address his appeal without him.

Condemnation now certain, Stewart will be given a finite time to get a city permit and demolish the property himself, or Sugar Hill will. Agee said the house must be leveled, its parts disposed of, its basement removed, its septic tank drained and filled with gravel or sand, then the lot graded flat, seeded and strawed.

Agee estimated it might cost Sugar Hill about $10,000 to demolish Stewart's property, an amount for which the city would lien the land.

Agee said he's ordered about 15 homes condemned in three years, and none of three residents' court appeals were upheld.

Separately on Monday, the council awarded the city's resigning Housing Authority chairman Jim Samford a framed proclamation, thanking him for his decade and a half of service. Samford led the authority since its inception on Aug. 11, 1997.