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      Dozens of Georgetown homes the focus of zoning department

      GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCIV) - The City of Georgetown's zoning department is tasked with keeping the city beautiful, and that's why officials are planning to tear down or fix up every worn out or abandoned home in city limits.

      Two years ago, Georgetown's Building and Zoning department set out to get rid of nearly 300 abandoned homes.

      "Mayor and council voted on it," said Rick Martin, building and zoning administrator. "Set it up as an ordinance to help clean up our neighborhoods to make sure that these homes were maintained in a certain condition."

      Martin says the department identified nearly 275 abandoned homes when the project started. Since then, more than half have been fixed up or torn down.

      Now, Martin is working with a team of others to take care of nearly 100 others.

      "If they see one that's boarded up or one that's overgrown they will call me, take pictures, send me an email and say 'Hey Rick, you need to go look at this structure.' And, that's the way it gets on our list," Martin said.

      Martin is the guy who evaluates each property before the process begins.

      "A lot of these issues are like roofs that are starting to sag, decay," said Martin. "Rear of the homes missing, broken windows, missing doors. In some cases, we've had people go in, cut the walls and take all the cooper wire out."

      The city now sets aside $75,000 per budget year to help the department complete the project. Martin says it cost about $5,000 per house and could take about eight months to complete the process on one home, depending on the circumstance.

      "We'll receive calls that someone is living in these homes. There's a mattress in them, homeless people trying to stay in them. Then we have the problem of animals," said Martin.

      Martin hopes to have all of the remaining homes fixed or torn down within the next two years.

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