Massive Marigny St. fire deepens neighbors' concerns over blight

Fire put focus on blighted homes in St. Roch

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - After a fire that started in a vacant property tore through a Marigny Street home and left a family of three homeless, residents in the St. Roch neighborhood are asking for a change in the way the city addresses blighted properties.

The city said the house where the fire started was deemed blighted last summer and recommended for sale by the city, but nothing happened.

"They need to stop this process that takes years to do. To me, it's just laziness, it's just complacency, it's unacceptable for the rest of us," said David Kendal Chriss, who lives across the street from a blighted home.

On Marigny Street, another home that appears blighted has an overgrown lawn littered with hypodermic needles.

"I'm scared, devastated. They have kids in this neighborhood and no one should have to live like this," said Dominique Thomas, who lives near the dilapidated house.

"It's up to the city. They gotta come around. They ain't showing up. This house has been like this for years now," said Chris Carter, whose family lives in the neighborhood.

Just a few homes down, another house is already on the city's radar. The property at 1843 Marigny was cited with eight code violations, and the owner showed up to a hearing May 12. At the hearing, an independent officer gave the homeowner a reset for August because the owner claimed he was trying to renovate the property.

"We want to remove that blight. Sometimes bureaucracy can be a hold-up, but we can also work together to look at ways to improve the process and shorten the time," Councilman Jared Brossett said.

Brossett says it's a difficult line to walk, though, because Louisiana has strong property rights laws. Still, he'd like to change the process on the local level to help residents who live next to blight.

"I'm all in favor for speeding up the process in accordance with the law. You can't skip over a certain process. It has to go to adjudication, but between adjudication and the demolition order being given, I think we can reduce some time there," Brossett said.

The city is set to demolish the properties burned by Wednesday's fire by the end of the week.

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