EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSOfficial Says Crackdown On Huntington Properties Holding People Accountable
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Darrah Wilcox
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Also Contributing: Associated Press
Reported: Jul. 29, 2013 8:56 AM EDT
Updated: Jul. 30, 2013 1:07 PM EDT
Huntington , Cabell County , West Virginia
It's hard for James Parsons to look at one of the properties in his Westmoreland neighborhood.
"It's just a mess to try to look at," he said.
Parsons and many of his neighbors work hard to keep their own properties maintained.
"Well, you can look up and down the block up and down that block, everybody keeps their lawns mowed and keeps their grounds maintained to look nice," Parsons said.
He said the property he is referring to has been an eyesore for about a year.
"Somebody needs to look after that mess right there," he said.
A new code enforcement team in Huntington is designed to take complaints exactly like this one. The team gets about 20 to 30 tips a day and goes out to investigate. Code Enforcement Officer Joe Holderby said the effort makes sense.
"It holds everybody accountable," Holderby said.
On July 1, the team started issuing on-the-spot citations to folks with grass or weeds more than a foot high, improper junk storage and indoor furniture outside.
"You can see when people start taking care of their property, it gets contagious," Holderby said.
This month alone, the team has issued more than 150 citations. Last year, for the entire fiscal year, only 99 were issued.
Holderby said there is an old saying that fits the situation, "Iit's not what you have, it's how you take care of what you do have."
They are words that James Parsons tries to live by.
"I can look after what we've got, and my neighbors look after what they've got," he said.
Parsons hopes the owner of the property he has concerns about will do the same very soon.
Residents can call 304-696-4444 to leave an anonymous complaint.
If you are issued a $100 citation, you have 10 days to clean up the problem and the fine is dropped. If not, you have to pay, and the more citations you rack up, the more the fees increase.
Property owners in Huntington have received more than 150 citations since July 1 for violating a new ordinance aimed at eliminating outdoor junk, trash, weeds and tall grass.
The citations were issued on the spot. Previously, owners had 10 days to clean up their properties before citations were issued.
The Herald-Dispatch reported that the city issued 99 citations during the entire previous fiscal year that ended June 30.
As part of the cleanup effort, the city transferred its two code enforcement officers from the Inspections and Compliance Department to a new unit under the police department.
Huntington Police Sgt. Darin Dempsey said the unit receives 20 to 30 tips per day about rundown properties through the police department's anonymous tip line.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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