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How to Solve a Problem

Delegate Rich Anderson hosts a Town Hall meeting to determine if current property code laws enabled by Richmond are sufficient to address our neighborhood problems.

Have you ever noticed an overgrown lawn, full of tall weeds, making all the houses around it look poor? Have you ever wondered if you made a huge mistake by buying your home that is now underwater? Have you ever thought, “I am so tired of living in this neighborhood, I wish I could move.”? Have you ever been embarrassed to invite friends to your home because they will have to drive down narrow streets, packed with cars, knowing when your friends arrive, they will have no place to park?  

Does someone in your neighborhood run a business with big work trucks taking up “your” parking space? Are you frustrated by your low property values when you have invested so much time and money in your home? Do your neighbors drive you crazy with their gazillion relatives, the multiple satellite dishes sprouting from roof tops like mushrooms, and six large trash cans left at the curb day in and day out? Do the barking dogs, screaming children and people throwing trash and litter in the street make you want to pull your hair?

If you answered “yes” to any one of those questions, I want to ask you one more: Have you ever made a complaint to the Prince William County Police or Neighborhood Services, Property Code Division for any of those things I listed?

I’ve worked as a volunteer for my community since 2006. I was trained with a group of other Neighborhood Leaders to help care for my community. We are the people who are determined to stop deteriorating neighborhoods and build better relationships with neighbors. You may think what your neighbors do or how they live does not affect you, but I assure you, it does. One horrible house on your block makes everyone else look bad and lowers your property values.

Over the years, we continue to help residents learn to care for their community along with us. The number one solution to neighborhood concerns is to talk to your neighbor. If that doesn’t work, the next step up is to contact PCE (Property Code Enforcement) or occasionally, the police department for parking violations, inoperable vehicles on the street and noise violations. For police, you call the non-emergency number: 703 792 6500. For PCE, you can use the online complaint form.

Sometimes, even that process doesn’t seem to work. We hear so many complaints alleging nothing is done about resident’s concerns that Delegate Rich Anderson has graciously offered to host a town hall meeting to help us sort out a solution.

The assumption on our part is that Neighborhood Services and the police are doing everything they can do under the current laws. If that assumption is correct, the current laws must not be sufficient to provide residents with the solutions they desire.

We’d like you to join us on Saturday, Aug. 4, at 10 a.m. in the Occoquan Room at the County Center and help us determine what needs done to improve our level of satisfaction and create a better appearance one would expect to find in the 9th most affluent county in the United States.

Looking forward to seeing you next weekend!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Chris Quirk Chitwood August 06, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Folks: I attended the Town Hall Meeting on 4 August that Connie Moser graciously put together for any and all residents. I had a lot of complaints about my neighbors, the Neighborhood Services Division and the County. The way I saw it - if I didn't get out and try to solve my problem, I should not complain. There are many people in our community that share similar concerns and the the high turn out on Saturday proved that. Delegate Richard Anderson, Supervisor Mike May, the County Attorney and a representative from NSD all attended to hear our complaints. Of course, Rome wasn't built in a day, nor did we solve all the problems of the world on Saturday, but we did agree there are problems that need to be addressed, offered up suggestions and agreed to meet again at a later date. Now I CAN complain....I'm taking the steps to make my community better and will continue to support this group of good citizens. Chris Armstrong
John Bonich August 06, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Connie, again, if skin color is not an issue, tell me why it was not until a large influx of immigrants started moving into the county that it suddenly became a problem you and others who think along such lines feel to be worthy of legislation? If the street is wide enough for a small work truck (10,000 lbs-20,000 lbs), then why make an issue of it? Its difficult to find a truck lot to keep them because they are usually filled with large (24,000 lbs and over) commercial vehicles and the rent for such lots isn't cheap. Work trucks of those size are not a safety issue as you claim unless the driver is a careless driver, which is a matter beyond property issues and code enforcement. The problem is that many folks don't seem to understand the difference between irresponsible neglect / obstruction and just simply trying to make a home of your own property. Wanda, your mulch pile story is a prime example of this. There's no code or any reason whatsoever that a mulch pile needs to be binned other than your personal notion that it should. When one of our neighbors at the end of my street can't mow because they're either out of town or have issues with their equipment, we help out and mow the yard for them. Its the neighborly thing to do. We don't have the county come stick a tax bill on their door. We focus on treating each other with respect and lending a hand when its needed.
John Bonich August 06, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Most people are underwater on their property value at this point because they bought during the housing bubble. Its unrealistic to think that property values will raise to that level again in the short term for any reason. To say values will go back up to overinflated rates because your neighbor's work truck isn't on the street or there's a mulch pile in someone's yard is either unrealistic or simply an excuse.
Connie Moser August 06, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Mr. Bonich, I apologize. I can see that your mind is made up and you are certainly entitled to believe anything you want. My error was in attempting to make you see the point of view shared by a very large number of residents in PWC. Obviously any training or education I may have in the field of community is useless and almost as obvious as your unwillingness to consider any view point other than your own. Thank you for reading my blog and have a good evening, Connie
John Bonich August 06, 2012 at 01:14 AM
I have darn good neighbors who have to work with many of the things brought up in this blog, and I've had the lawn mower problems myself in the past that I stated in my earlier comment. I take extreme exception to the idea that people in this county want to use the law to penalize good people simply because their lifestyle and employment situation is different. So yes, my mind is made up. As I stated, there is a difference between these matters and willful neglect. The latter is a nuisance and usually exhibits problems far worse than those stated in this blog. If the people of PWC really want to build better relationships with their neighbors and other county residents, trying to use the government to bully people into conforming to one's own personal notion of an upstanding lifestyle isn't the answer.

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