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'Worst community in America' targeted for cleanup

Brannon Hill has 60 days to repair some of its buildings or DeKalb County can step in.

<p>Brannon Hill in Clarkston has 60 days to repair some of its buildings, or the county can step in. IMAGE COURTESY NANCY JESTER FACEBOOK</p>

DECATUR, Ga. – A DeKalb community that has been called “the worst community in America” has 60 days to repair some of its buildings, or the county can step in.

Last week, DeKalb Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams signed an order granting the county authorization to demolish and clean up several buildings at the Brannon Hills condominium complex in Clarkston. The order applies to buildings that were destroyed or seriously damaged by fire, in the event that owners do not complete the work themselves.

The order doesn’t allow the county to clean up the entire property, but only certain fire damaged or destroyed areas.

Brannon Hill is home to numerous immigrants and refugees, and has gained national attention for its harsh conditions. Earlier this year, the Deen Media Center called Brannon Hill the worst community in America because of its high crime, unsafe structures and mounting debris.

The complex also has allegedly been used as a dumping ground by private businesses.

“This is good news for the county,” said District 1 commissioner Nancy Jester. “This property has been a blight for many years. I’m happy the county took the issue seriously and so did the courts.”

After 60 days, the properties will be inspected. If the property owners haven’t complied with the order, DeKalb is authorized to clean up the property and file a lien to recover any cleanup costs.

“There are some real human issues we’ll have to deal with, should people need to be relocated,” Jester said. “The county has these kinds of services and I’d expect it to use them.”

“This is a big step in the right direction,” said interim CEO Lee May. “This order puts Brannon Hill’s owners on notice to improve the property or DeKalb has the authority to step in and take action. We have been working diligently for years to cleaning up Brannon Hill and other blighted communities.”

The court order is the result of a July 2016 action filed by the county’s law department seeking to require the property owners to demolish and clean up specified burned or dilapidated structures.