Following years of complaints about its appearance, a dilapidated house near the new Barrow Crossing retail center has been demolished.
However, the pile of debris created by the April 15 demolition was still at the site early this week, because the Barrow County Department of License & Permits issued a stop-work order to prevent its removal.
Director Lyn Clement said neither the contractor nor the property’s owner had obtained the required $100 demolition permit or had filed other documentation regarding the potential presence of asbestos in the materials or a second document regarding the disposal of the debris.
The property is owned by Island Ford Trusts, which is controlled by the family of former GDOT commissioner Thomas D. Moreland. The family’s purchase of the site 24 years ago was the subject of an April 14 article in the Barrow Journal.
Clement said that two or three weeks ago, he received a call from a contractor who said he was from outside of the county, but planned to bid on the site’s demolition work and needed to know the county’s requirements.
But no one came in person to the office to obtain the permit.
So when he learned from another department director last Thursday morning that the demolition work was under way, Clement immediately sent two inspectors to the site.
“We stopped him on the bulldozer, put up a stop-work order, and told him not to take anything off the site,” Clement said.
The man on the bulldozer told the county inspectors that he was from Loganville and had taken on the project as a favor for a friend that bid on the job.
“He didn’t know he was supposed to get a permit,” Clement said.
‘NO CLUE’ PERMIT NEEDED
The permit department then got into contact with Sandra Moreland Stewart, who is Tom Moreland’s sister and is married to the person who in 1986 purchased the property and later sold it to the family trust.
Stewart said she was out of town and that she, too, had been unaware of the county’s requirements.
“Mrs. Stewart told us she did not have any clue she had to get a demolition permit,” Clement said. “She said nobody told her that.”
Clement said he tries to believe everyone he encounters, because he believes everyone should be telling the truth.
However, Shannon Navarre Young, the director of Keep Barrow Beautiful, doubts that no one knew the rules.
“When any structure is demolished by commercial means, i.e. heavy equipment contractors, they are well aware of the laws in this state dealing with lead, asbestos and requirements associated with that process.
“I am certain that, based on calls made to License & Permits and the state, that bidders for this job were perfectly aware of the requirements and would have told Mrs. Stewart about the letters and/or permits.”
Young said the only reason the county knew about the demolition while the contractor was still at the site was because someone called her to thank her for her actions to get the eyesore property cleaned up.
Young said as soon as she learned about the ongoing demolition, she contacted Clement’s department and learned that no demolition permit had been issued.
Since the conversations last week with the man on the bulldozer and Mrs. Stewart, no one else has stopped by to purchase the permit.
“I think she’s out of town,” Clement said. “I think that’s what it is — the people are waiting until she gets back in town to come and get the permit.
“We’ve been going by and keeping an eye on it.”
What a hoot! From an earlier article in this very paper, Shannon Navarre Young, director of Keep Barrow Beautiful, sent a certified letter to Moreland at his company’s headquarters, stating “I have had numerous complaints about properties along the 316/81 corridor that our tax parcels state is your property,” Young wrote. “Specifically, the old house at 857 Loganville Highway is in deplorable shape and is covered in garbage. Your property on the North portion of Loganville Highway is also in need of drastic improvement to not only improve site conditions but (to) ensure our ‘gateway’ into Winder is more presentable.”
Now when they start to clean it up, they tell them to stop until they pay a "fee"??? Typical Barrow County shenanigans...what a bunch of incompetent idiots.
Incompetent idiots?? For what, requiring compliance with State law? I'm not from Barrow County, but I heard about this story. And I applaud Barrow County for their actions. I don't think the $100 permit fee is the issue here. I think Barrow County is more concerned about the safety of its citizens. If a structure is demolished without first removing any friable asbestos, state law has been violated. And the health of nearby citizens may be compromised with asbestos floating around in the air. And then there is the issue of proper disposal if asbestos is present, in compliance with Georgia Solid Waste disposal rules. Federal EPA NESHAP rules may not apply here, since it is a single family dwelling, unless the demolition is part of a larger project, such as a road widening or clearing way to build a shopping center. But State law should not be ignored. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Besides, the "incompetent idiots" may be saving your life. If these are "typical Barrow County shenanigans", I say keep up the good work!!
Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
04/29/10 at 07:56 AM
It wasn't "ignorance" of the law, it was "arrogance" of a Barrow County ruling class member.