Neighborliness or Not, That Is the Question

Neighborliness or Not, That Is the Question

By Blaney Pridgen

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

Two and a half years ago, this paper published my article about the derelict properties of Edgefield.  Much of this has improved since then in homes and businesses.  A big well done to all responsible.  I hope our readership has noticed and am as thankful as I.  Yet, more can be done with the derelict matter.

Remember, a derelict property is a place in very bad condition as a result of long-term disuse and neglect.  It is not a place where someone is currently living or operating a business.  It is a place that could be a set for an apocalyptic or dystopian movie.  Zombies might be lurking around, but definitely snakes, rats, and bats.  Nothing could make it better but a bulldozer and dump truck.  But I know from experience that demolition is expensive, especially if asbestos is present.  Nonetheless, the people who own these places are very bad neighbors and do not give a hoot about our town or its future.  I am still wondering what local government can do about this.  Couldn’t the property be condemned, and the owner given a year to clear it up?  If they do nothing after a year, then the property is seized and sold at auction, just as if it were a foreclosure.  After all, the owner has not met the responsibilities of ownership.  A potential buyer could get a nice piece of property real cheap and have the same rule to tear down and clear the derelict.  Is that impossible?  Why?  If this proposal seems toodraconian, then perhaps some kind of property tax incentive might be offered to the owner if they will do the right thing, love their neighbors, and remove the eyesore.  

Try as I have, again and again, I cannot figure out what goes on in the heads and hearts of people who litter the highways and own eyesore property.  They are after all human beings and the Lord certainly loves them, and I do too, albeit with some struggle and prayer.  Don’t they care about their fellows or have any pride?  Is it meanness or ignorance?  Sometimes I ride my motorcycle out desolate state and county roads.  I discover some beautiful properties.  I also see heart-breaking, wretched dwellings surrounded by an acre of rusty junk cars and the like.  Perhaps it is just a poverty of the pocket and of hope.  

On another much brighter subject, my motorcycle sojourns often take me past lovely country churches tucked away on country roads.  Some of these are very attractive.  All of these are well kept, that is loved, which says good things about the souls who worship therein.  There’s not much traffic passing by these churches; yet their membership cares about their appearance and grounds no matter how humble.  I always whisper a “good for you” as I go by.  Sometimes I stop to reflect and give thanks for the folk who love their neighbors and their neighborhood no matter how rural.  Property is a picture into the soul of the owner.