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Rules for abandoned structures considered by Forsyth BOC
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The Greenleaf subdivision was torn down in April after the houses were abandoned since construction halted in 2006. - photo by FCN file photo

Forsyth County does not have any way of dealing with unsafe, unused structures in the county, though that will likely change.

Forsyth County commissioners voted 5-0 to hold public hearings on the issue at a work session this week.

The need for such rules originally came up during discussions on the Greenleaf subdivision, an infamous abandoned neighborhood where construction halted in 2006. Structures on the property were not torn down until this April.

“The issue is … we basically need a nuisance abatement ordinance that mimics state law,” County Attorney Ken Jarrard said. “With the Greenleaf development, we went up there and had to file these lawsuits, and it was a fairly tortured process.”

Though Greenleaf is the largest and most notable example, some commissioners said there are houses in their district that have burned or otherwise been damaged and left abandoned but standing after the owner took the insurance money without tearing them down.

Since the county did not have an ordinance in place to address a situation like that, officials’ hands were tied to bring down the unsafe structures.

Jarrard said the county will likely take on a policy similar to the state code.

“State law does allow for us to adopt an ordinance that provides for an expedited ability to not only clean up dilapidated or unsafe properties,” he said, “but also to have a court hearing, due process, and then if the properties [are] not cleaned up we can exercise self-help.”