Dilapidated property issue draws ire

I have set the last several weeks and listened to certain individuals in the Elkins area complain about “dilapidated” properties. I travel back in forth from my other home in Pennsylvania, and have never seen so many people up in arms about simple, petty things in my life. Some people involved have just really gone “overboard”.

So let’s look at the definition of this word: (of a building or object) in a state of disrepair or ruin as a result of age or neglect. Synonyms include: run-down, tumbledown, ramshackle, broken-down, in disrepair, shabby, battered, beat-up, rickety, shaky, unsound, crumbling, in ruins, ruined, decayed, decaying, decrepit; neglected, uncared-for, untended, the worse for wear, falling to pieces, falling apart, gone to rack and ruin, gone to seed “a row of dilapidated houses”

With that being defined. There is no doubt that there are some places in Elkins that are abandoned and do need removed. However, there are laws in place for protection of both parties. The home owner as well as the neighbors.

What about those homes that people are still living in? Those people that live paycheck to paycheck and can only afford to do a little work on their homes at a time. Who is going to stand up for them? I see a lot of people complaining, “tear it down!” However, none of you standing up for your neighbors saying, “How can we help?” Sadly, personally I see some of these same people claiming to be such good Christians on Sunday. Hmmm, what about the other six days my friends? Does love thy neighbor only apply when it’s convenient for you?

Let’s be logical for a second, something I don’t think most of these folks are doing. You are a 50-plus-year-old person. You work full time, making the West Virginia state minimum of a whopping $28,000 a year. After all is said and done, you have $300 at the end of your monthly budget to live on. Now let’s imagine: your siding is coming off in places, and now your hot water heater has just blew, ruining your bathroom floor. Hmmm, logically, I think these people would want to not fall through the floor, correct? Why should they have to make their over-reactive neighbors happy? That floor is more important than the siding. That siding will be purchased at a later date. Just because some homes look bad on the outside, does not mean they are not working “in to out.”

Money only goes so far. Some people aren’t blessed with the option of a husband/wife to take care of them, a well-paying job, or the ability to get help from the state because, sadly, they own their own property or make $5 too much. And for those of you who are constantly saying there are grants, loans, etc. to make property repairs, there are rules and regulations for them also. Financial hardship is a “real” thing in this area.

What gives someone the right to go around town, making their own judgments on a structure to whether or not it gets torn down? Are you trained as an inspector? Did you go to school to learn about safety? Do you want it removed because a “low life” is there, is it the wrong color, or repairs need done? Are you aware that some of these people have already contacted city hall, several times with questions? You weren’t? Probably because it’s none of your business!

Why do the two particular women that associate themselves with Main Street think it is ok to go onto someone’s private property, scaring them by telling “your place is on our list, fix it or the City will tear it down”? Yes folks, this happened!

Yes, I agree Elkins has some run-down properties. Do I believe that we should tear them all down? No. I can personally say each and every time I have contacted city hall about “permit” questions, or structure questions, that someone has called me back. It may take them several days to return my call, but I, unlike others realize that these people have bigger issues and a lot of other work to do. I also understand that citizens have rights, all citizens! Whether we agree with them or not. You can’t just put people in jail, fine them, or tear their property down because you want it done. Again, all citizens have rights!

My point, after this large rant is this: Harassment is illegal. Which is what is happening to home owners all over Elkins because a few feel they have the right to tell someone how to live.

The city and county have limits to what they can do under written laws. The city and/or county cannot make people “pretty” up there properties just to make a few people happy. If I want to paint my two-story house bright pink, pave my entire yard and spray paint flowers all over it, I can. Sure my neighbors can sue me civilly, but then they have to prove their case.

If the structures are a danger, then yes, absolutely, the city/county should take action to remove them. However, people in the city shouldn’t complain if their taxes are raised. This money has to come from somewhere. We have paid 7 percent tax in cities like Clarksburg, Fairmont and Morgantown for years. That 1 percent is a help with things in these cities, but it is not enough to “fix” the world.

Time for people to be realistic. Stop acting like children. Stop harassing your neighbors. Want to make Elkins more beautiful? Be like those individuals who work with Elkins Make it Shine. Offer to help clean up, spruce up, and yes, pay out of your own pocket to help you fellow neighbors. Melody Price and the others in this group have the right idea. Stop being petty and complaining about things. Become part of the solution. Know of a grant? Ask your neighbor 1st, write the grant, get the money, and make a good thing happen.

Finally, stop scaring the older folks in this town by telling them their houses will be tore down. Some of these folks have a hard enough time in life. They truly do not need someone threatening their way of lives. As my granny use to say “Act your age, not your shoe size.”

Sandra H Johnson

Greensburg. Pa.

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