Home demolitions delayed for hearing
The demolitions would be overseen and paid for by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Most of the city’s homes – about 68 percent – were coded yellow, meaning they have structural damage but were judged to be sound. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NEW ORLEANS – Under pressure from community activists, city officials agreed Wednesday not to begin demolishing thousands of hurricane-damaged homes before a court hearing next week. The agreement came hours after activists sued to stop plans to raze buildings without court hearings or owners’ consent. A hearing is set for Jan. 6 before a state judge. Last week, city officials announced their intention to start demolishing about 2,500 buildings that inspectors found to be dangerously unstable after they were flooded by Hurricane Katrina. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake City officials claim they have the authority to act without the approval of the owners or a court order because the structures pose an imminent threat to safety. But the plaintiffs said city officials are overstepping their authority and violating the law. Bill Quigley, a Loyola University School of Law professor and the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said Wednesday’s agreement suggests that city government might be inclined to “do the right thing for these people” and adopt a “fair, legal and constitutional” demolition process that takes the wishes of property owners into consideration. Brenda Breaux, a city government attorney, declined to discuss the dispute. The plaintiffs also charge that there were major flaws in the inspection process that determined which buildings are unsafe. In fact, several of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit contend that their buildings were mistakenly red-tagged for demolition. City officials say red stickers were placed on 5,534 buildings on New Orleans’ east bank. Greg Meffert, who oversees the city’s Department of Safety and Permits, said the plan was to inspect 3,000 of those buildings a second time to make sure they need to be brought down.