Loudoun supervisors are moving ahead with a new law giving the county government a tool to tackle unsightly and unsafe properties.
Today, blighted properties in Loudoun are governed by provisions of state building code that only require property owners to take action on unsafe structures, which are defined as “dangerous to the health, safety and welfare of the occupants of the structure or the public,” that contain unsafe equipment, or that are “so damaged, decayed, dilapidated, structurally unsafe or of such faulty construction or unstable foundation that partial or complete collapse is likely.” In those cases, the property owner need only board up the doors and windows.
On Oct. 11, supervisors will hold a public hearing on a new law that would give the county tools to go after unsightly, dilapidated structures. Under the new rules, once a complaint is submitted, county staff members will inspect the property. If it’s found to violate minimum health and safety standards, the property owner is given 30 days to address the problem. If they don’t, the county carries out its own plan to address the blight, and places a lien against the property for the cost of that plan.
“All we could do was give a notice of violation, and that property owner only had to board up the doors and windows to secure the structure, no matter how unsafe or insecure or overgrown it was, and that satisfied the ordinance,” said board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). “This ordinance essentially provides a process that allows us to go further.”
The proposal for a new blight ordinance was first brought by Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) in response to several blighted properties posing safety risks in the county.