We are constantly amazed how a simple effort to eradicate falling-down and abandoned structures in this county can be turned into a land grab by Big Brother.
But that was the attitude of Magistrates Iran Fannin and Lambert Moore last week when County Judge-Executive Robert Roach proposed updating the countys nuisance abatement ordinance to include abandoned, dilapidated and uninhabited buildings.
The fact is those structures represent a huge negative impact on nearby property owners. They can be a safety problem for everyone from curious neighborhood children to firefighters called to put out a blaze in them.
Thus it is very much the countys business to make certain such dangerous structures are either repaired by their owner or removed.
The proposed ordinance change would give owners 30 days before fines can be levied, and action could be taken only upon receipt of a legitimate complaint.
In fact, according to County Attorney Rick Sparks, a complaint would not be acceptable simply because someone believes a structure is unsightly.
Abandoned, dilapidated and uninhabited are the three deciding factors. Its a reasonable expectation of property owners by those who live in the county, pay their taxes and keep up their property.
As for a complaint that an old, abandoned structure on a large farm not visible to the public would fall under the ordinance, language can be added applying to structures within a certain distance from a public road and visible from that road.
Because the safety issues notwithstanding, the bottom line here is that there is no place for dilapidated and abandoned and probably uninhabitable buildings dotting the roadsides of this county.
County government would not permit open dumps on private property along county roadways. County government would not allow threats to public health located on private land to exist along county roads.
County government should not allow irresponsible landowners to maintain abandoned, dilapidated and uninhabited buildings on their property along public roads either.