Overgrown lots sparks new city ordinance

Hartsville, SC - By Alisha Laventure - bio | email

HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) – An epidemic of overgrown lots has the Hartsville City Council considering an ordinance to clean them up.

There are 380 overgrown lots in the City of Hartsville that are known to the city planning commission. The majority are of them are in Southern Hartsville.

Some have existed for upwards of 15 years.

"It's an eyesore and it makes the property value go down on your property," said James Poston.

He lives on a short street where there at least half a dozen abandoned or overgrown lots.

"You come out at 1 a.m., 2 a.m., and you see flash lights and cigarette lighters striking in abandoned houses," Poston added.

He said the lots become the sight of position, drug use and alcohol consumption. Residents also complain that the lots obstruct the view of certain streets and buildings.

"I want to see clear! I want to see to the other side of the bushes because," said Hattie Dargan.

The view from her living room window is an overgrown with 15-foot shrubs.

City council members discussed proposal for a nuisance ordinance at Monday night's work session meeting. Under the ordinance, the city would clean the lots and add the cost to the lot owner's property taxes.

"I think it's a good idea, because they're not going to do it themselves," Dargan said.

The city says a large number of these lots are passed down within families from generation to generation. People inherit the lots but do not maintain them, nor are they willing to sell them.

Other lots are purchased by people not living in Hartsville, but wanting to flip the properties for a profit. While the lots are up for sale, the lots are not maintained.

Most residents are in favor of the ordinance. However, some are concerned that home owners won't be able to pay their taxes after the city adds on the cleaning bill.

"With the economy the way it is, it is already taxing to just be able to come up with your property tax," Deborah Williams said, who lives across the street from two overgrown lots. "If the individual is not able to pay that, then what?"

The city council is currently reviewing similar ordinances in Darlington and Florence to see how they could be applied in Hartsville.

The council will further discuss the ordinance at next week's council meeting.

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