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What can you do about blighted properties around you?

A neighbor of a once-beautiful church has spent years trying to hold a property owner accountable to little avail

MACON, Ga. — Neighbors say they’re frustrated because a once beautiful church is now a place for drug deals and vandals.

They say the property owner will not return their calls and they’ve spent years pleading and emailing Macon-Bibb County departments for help.

Is there anyone or anything they can do to hold someone accountable?


Mary Mundy grew up on Hillcrest Drive.

“We went to church at Hillcrest Heights Methodist Church. Everyone in the neighborhood went to church there,” she said.

The church is directly across from her home, but looks different than how she remembers. The windows are shattered and the gym is burned.

“We had Sunday school classes there and it’s been totally burned out on the inside,” she said.

Now, people use it as a dumping site and a parking lot for 18-wheelers.

“Vandals started going in, breaking into the church, breaking into the parsonage that is over there,” said Mundy.

She says she’s been contacting government agencies for seven years.

“I kept copies of a lot of emails. August 2013. There’s one from March 2012. They just go on and on. We’re tired of begging, we just need some help,” she said.

Records from the tax assessor’s office show the owner, Asher Abraham, lives in Atlanta. Mundy says he hasn’t returned her calls for help.

“He purchased the property and therefore he bought that responsibility to take care of it,” she said.

William Mander with Macon-Bibb County code enforcement says they’re overwhelmed. Right now, they have three inspectors working on nearly 3,000 cases.

“We try to prioritize the cases because someone who has a bad electric system in their house is worse than someone who isn’t cutting their grass,” said Mander.

He also says they have two cases open against Abraham, who received a notice in 2017 and again in June 2019 to trim the grass and properly board up the windows.

They normally give property owners 30 days to respond, but they’ll extend that if they can’t get in touch with the owner or, in this case, the owner says they need more time.

The tax commissioner’s office says Abraham’s 2017 and 2018 taxes are unpaid – he owes nearly $3,500 to the county. 13WMAZ tried calling Abraham.

After a week of calls, we reached him. He said he’s tried to rent the property, but fires keep happening and people keep breaking in.

“It’s on the police for not helping” and “the problem is crime up there, not me,” he said.

Mundy says after 15 years of looking at the church and seven years of asking people to do something, they’re on their last leg.

She doesn’t want to move, but the church is more than an eyesore, it’s a safety concern.

Mander says a recently passed county code could multiply Abraham's taxes seven times. The new law is forcing property owners to either make changes or sell their properties.

If you have a property you think code enforcement needs to check out, click here.


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