Editorial: Battling against blight

Jul. 05, 2014 @ 11:29 PM

Nobody guessed it would be an overnight solution. There’s too much.

But Henderson and Vance County are working against property blight. One of the recent aids, Project Clean Slate, was featured on our front page.

This isn’t an easy problem. Property owners have rights, and the city and county have ordinances. Just from those three tentacles come a multitude of variables.

Fairness and consistency should be givens. And that’s usually where a number of issues begin. Blighted areas are gray areas — large swaths in fact.

Consider this puzzler. An afternoon thunderstorm rumbles through the area, and when it departs a number of trees have been felled. There’s one in a neighborhood, with a homeowner not readily having the money on hand to finish getting it down and haul it off.

The city will do it, issue a bill and even hold a tax lien if necessary to be sure it is done if the property owner cannot.

And yet, in another section of town, a burned out home stands for years as an eyesore — blight.

Indeed, fairness and consistency are tough.

In a report on blight last year, we found the extraterritorial jurisdiction buffering Henderson and Vance County was essentially a no man’s land. It could be for other elements, too.

The April meeting of the Henderson-Vance Economic Development Commission included a pledge to support and help the city and county as it works against blight and vacant commercial properties. That’s a good step forward.

We’re pretty confident gangs are going to continue wanting to mark their territory, and drug users are going to find places to squat for their illegal habits.

Groups like the EDC and others joining city and county government, and respective law enforcement agencies, to chip in what they can to help is paramount. Law, strategy, enforcement and labor — both paid and volunteer — are all involved.

In a community our size, we’ll be stronger coming together rather than looking one direction for an entity to go at it alone. We encourage each organization considered a stakeholder in our city and county to extend a hand to help. Blight may be a complex problem, but not so much that we can’t get on top and bring it under control.

We’re better than what we’re showing.