Macon's Crystal Lake residents evicted, officials say property owners have 'failed'


    MACON, Ga. — Mayor Robert Reichert says residents of Macon’s troubled Crystal Lake Apartments were evicted Tuesday.

    Reichert said Crystal Lake ownership "constructively evicted" all the residents who were forced to evacuate on Friday. This means they won't be returning and their leases are now terminated. Additionally, "constructive eviction" means the landlord failed their legal duties that have rendered the property uninhabitable.

    Related content: Churches, hotels, non-profits step up for Macon's Crystal Lake residents

    Some of the tenants gathered at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Macon Tuesday evening to hear from Bibb County leaders and commissioners about what they're doing to help the situation. Commissioners Al Tillman and Virgil Watkins were present.

    "You cant retaliate against folks because you're in violation and that's what this is clearly about, violations that Macon-Bibb County inspection and fees has deemed this property," mayor pro tem Al Tillman said. "They should be given part of their money back. The property owner has yet to step up and offer any assistance to hotels that people have been staying in, food, or even security to watch over their properties"

    Watch the Town Hall meeting with Crystal Lake Apartment tenants and county leaders below:

    The residents were forced to evacuate Friday due to water and electricity issues. One tenant at Tuesday's meeting told WGXA that since she's moved in less than one year ago, she's seen a ripple effect of problem after problem at Crystal Lake Apartments.

    "And then like slowly but surely things were just like diminishing and then I felt like they put a band-aid on everything until I moved and then things started like just started not working. First it was the tub, then it was the sink, then it was the garbage disposal, and then like slowly but surely things started messing up," Shannon Fontes said. "It got flooded, like my bed was no good no more, my dresser was no good, like every pair of shoes I owned was soaking wet and falling apart and I still didn't want to leave and they moved me to an apartment downstairs but then I had no front door or a refrigerator that worked and then now this."

    Tillman told residents Tuesday night that the issues are "about property owners that have failed to keep their residents safe." Watkins said they're bringing the Crystal Lake Apartment ownership to court over previous violations. He has also proposed hefty fines against the owners.

    Tillman also attempted to call the cellphone for property owner Steve Firestone, and he said the recorded response was interesting:

    "This number is no longer in use. If this is a tenant calling, please refer to your property's website with your name, email and phone number and company. Please no one, leave messages on this phone. They will not be returned."

    County leaders present also talked about options and housing for the displaced families at the meeting.

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