ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) –

Leaders are gearing up to take action on the old Howard Johnson Hotel in Jackson County, which burned down nearly five years ago. The hotel has sat as an eyesore since 2012.

Now, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors is getting the green light to move forward on cleaning the property in St. Martin.

Over the course of the next three months, the county is going to begin the process of clearing the place up.

Until recently, the county has been unable to do anything about the blighted property because of a legal battle about who owns the hotel. Now that those issues are solved, they were able to declare the hotel a menace to public health. That gives the green light to start the demolition process and charge it to the property owners.

“Tearing it down is a little under $20,000, based on what I’ve seen. The part that’s going to cost is actually the disposal cost, and that was going to drive the cost up,” said board President Troy Ross. “We’re hoping that we can work with our landfill and find what can go there and use the landfill. That will bring the cost down a lot and make it a lot easier.”

This is just the first step to getting the mess cleaned up. State law only allows the county to use a certain amount of money per year to do these types of demolitions, and this three-story building will cost far more than that. Ross said because of the time of year that this all is happening, there might be a way around it to be able to use more than the allotted amount to expedite this process.

“The big catch is by state law, we’re only allowed to spend $20,000 on a cleanup. The good thing is we have the fiscal year that ends in October, starts in September, so we can do twice as much in a short period time.”

The county is currently hearing from contractors to find the best cost-efficient way to get rid of this mess.

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