Atlantic City demolishing vacant properties
Atlantic City officials have sharpened their focus on removing abandoned homes and buildings that plague the city's neighborhoods. Dozens of derelict structures are currently deemed unfit, and more than 30 have been torn to the ground in 2014 alone.
"We will be demolishing another eight or 10 during the next couple weeks," said Dale Finch, director of Atlantic City's Department of Licensing and Inspections. "It's been a priority with the new administration."
Finch said the abandoned properties are bad for the city in several ways, including their effect on the value of neighboring properties.
"Also, they are hangouts for illegal, illicit activities, drug use and crime, and people living in them that don't have any reason to be there - squatters," he said.
Unauthorized occupants can most likely be linked to fires in late November at two abandoned homes in the city. Finch said a woman was injured in one of the blazes, as well as firefighters.
The department has begun sharing its "abandoned" list with city fire officials in case they want to scan the properties for potential dangers and hazards, should they have to fight a fire there in the future.
When an abandoned property is documented by the city, the owner or lien holder is contacted to see if there are any plans for the structure. If it's not brought up to code after a certain amount of time, demolition is a go.
Finch said the city's fight against neighborhood blight will be "very aggressive" during 2015.