Local News

Smithfield Using Flyers To Inform Residents Of Abandoned Property Laws

Posted October 30, 2003

— Smithfield is trying to take care of its overgrown lots and abandoned cars by informing residents of the law. It is a new approach to a problem that is not going away on its own.

Pearl Batten lives next door to an abandoned house. She complained about its overgrown yard to Smithfield's planning director.

"Well, it was just terrible," she said.

Planning director Paul Embler said the owner of the lot was contacted and property was mowed last week. Embler said his office receives about six complaints each week about overgrown and trashed lots.

Embler's office has found 400 abandoned vehicles in just half of the town. He said the owners are often not around.

"About half of our entire stock in town is rental housing," Embler said.

When the town went out to investigate overgrown lots, it found that people either did not know or understand the law. One-page flyers now outline the rules.

The trash may not disappear any faster, but for residents who live next to the trashed lots, the attention might mean fewer problem neighbors move in.

Enforcing the codes is difficult for any city or town. Cleaning up the lots can take years and cases often wind up in court.


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