- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) - Southaven now has a tool to address seriously deteriorating property after aldermen approved a much-discussed code championed by Mayor Darren Musselwhite as a way to keep blight in check in the city.

By a 6-1 vote, The Commercial Appeal reports (https://bit.ly/1ka7nU8) the board approved Tuesday the proposal, known as the Property Maintenance Code.

The measure allows the city to cite property owners whose homes are in such a major state of decline that it affects the value of surrounding property and the city’s image.

Musselwhite has emphasized the measure isn’t a tool to nitpick over minor defects. As examples of what the city is concerned with, he has cited such things as large areas of painted surface where the paint has peeled off down to the wood or shrubs so badly overgrown they hide windows of homes.

“I won’t be a ‘do-nothing’ mayor on this,” Musselwhite said during earlier discussions. “We’ve seen other cities that have kicked this issue down the road, and now they’ve got a problem that I don’t know if they can still fix.”

Aldermen would have final say, but anyone cited under the code would first go through another city board.

The measure stems from property in poor repair primarily in the city’s older areas near the Tennessee state line, but it applies to all areas of the city and to commercial property as well as residential. City officials say many of the problems stem from absentee landlords and their rental property.

Musselwhite said he wanted to get a handle on the problem before blight spreads and becomes a major concern citywide. With a population of about 50,000, Southaven has grown to Mississippi’s fifth-largest city and in the coming years potentially faces the same sorts of issues in countless other neighborhoods as they begin to age.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com

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