VP Opinion/Editorial: “Boarded up houses drain old cities”

September 27, 2007

The Virginian-Pilot has an opinion article following up on their September 23 article on the effects of abandoned housing. The article chastises State legislators:

State legislators offer no help.

Lawmakers, in fact, seem more sympathetic to absentee and irresponsible landowners than they are to neighbors left to deal with the vermin and crime that come with empty, blighted buildings.

State law prevents cities from assessing fines on owners, and the annual fee for vacant houses is a laughable $25. Legislators are promising to consider a proposal to double it. But $50 is too small to make a property owner budge and too little to cover the extra municipal expenses a neglected property runs up.

The article also mentions how the change in eminent domain laws has effected the Commonwealth’s older cities.

Legislators were justifiably concerned about the abuse of condemnation powers, but they should also be concerned about leaving urban communities more vulnerable to decay.

The Wards Corner Partnership could not agree more with the following exerpt:

It’s in everyone’s interest to get these properties repaired and back on the market.

Empty properties, whether they be residential or commercial storefronts, are a great concern for the residents and business owners of our Partnership Area. Allowing properties to sit empty and decay will only further exacerbate the crime and decay that is already present. A prime example of this is the Martone property on the northeast side of the Granby Street – Little Creek Road intersection.

Our State legislators need to realize the effects on inner cities of not being able to use eminent domain to further economic development. There needs to be a solution that gives the Cities and Counties the ability to influence those landowners who continue to negatively affect the property and residents around them. That solution needs to not only respect the rights of private land ownership, but also respect the rights of neighboring property owners whose property values are diminished as a result of the increased decay and crime.


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