- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) - Southaven is wrestling with how to address blighted property, and answers aren’t coming easily.

After more than 30 minutes of debate, aldermen last week tabled consideration of a proposed maintenance code offered by Mayor Darren Musselwhite and city staff. They agreed to further discussion on dealing with deteriorating residential properties, although two aldermen - Kristian Kelly and Raymond Flores - wanted a vote on the plan suggested by Musselwhite during a special meeting Sept. 4.

At issue are older properties, primarily in the city’s original west end area near the state line, that have fallen into disrepair and prompted calls for action from area residents.

A passionate Musselwhite told aldermen at last Tuesday’s meeting he would not be a “do-nothing” mayor who fails to take action while endless discussions take place.

“If you do nothing, you’re gonna wake up in 15 years and it’ll be a different place,” Musselwhite said.

The proposed maintenance code would go well beyond mowing overgrown lawns as the city does now, also giving the city control over the general condition of the property and allowing it to require improvements deemed necessary to keep the property in good repair.

Musselwhite said without some measure of control over property conditions, the city risks seeing the overall character of its neighborhoods decline over time.

“Our current code doesn’t address the conditions of homes,” Musselwhite said. “As a result, neighborhoods have gone down. People are begging every day, asking if we’re going to become Southeast Memphis.”

Some aldermen, while agreeing they don’t want deterioration, questioned whether the proposed code is the way to deal with the problem.

The Commercial Appeal reports (https://bit.ly/1MlCpkU ) no timetable was set for action after the board voted to table the plan.

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

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