MILLEDGEVILLE — More than two years ago Baldwin County officials introduced a proposal aimed at addressing issues with unkempt and abandoned properties and yard debris. That plan was met with public criticism and concern that its implementation was too heavy-handed and invasive for local property owners.
Now a new proposal has again brought forth the same discussion on all sides. A public hearing will be held next week to discuss the proposed Baldwin County Safe Property Ordinance, which county officials say equips them with the necessary tools to clean up blighted areas in Baldwin County.
While there are property owners who still view this as too stringent a measure, we all must recognize that strengthening the existing code is of long-term benefit to Baldwin County; however, county leaders and property owners have to come to some middle ground.
The ordinance aims to establish minimum requirements and standards for properties. This is not only for the benefit of county officials but also for those who live in the neighborhoods that surround them.
Drive through areas of Baldwin County and it should be evident to most, if not all of us, why the county is again taking up this issue. While not every part of the county is a concern, there seem to be repeat offenders in some locations who leave their property in disrepair for extended periods of time or permanently. Property owners have rights within the boundary lines of the property they work and pay taxes to maintain, but so do their neighbors and other local residents who must view their property. This is not only a property owner’s issue; it is also an issue of economic development when the poor upkeep of others’ property impacts the potential for development all around it.
Local residents, particularly property owners, should be allowed to provide their input into this possible ordinance change. This ordinance change has not been approved and has already had revisions. That is why next week’s public forum is important to the next steps.