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Neighborhood Irked as Bill Dies in Subcommittee

Belongings dumped curbside waiting for pick up in Old Southwest neighborhood.

by Valerie Garner

Roanoke City’s Old Southwest had its hopes pinned on a bill that would alleviate the dumping ground that sprouts “mountains of stuff” all over their neighborhood. Roanoke City Delegate Onzlee Ware introduced House Bill 1499 before the legislative session began on January 12.

The bill was intended to strike language that requires personal property to be removed immediately from an evicted tenant’s residence. After removal, the premises would be restored to the landlord.

The sheriff is responsible for overseeing the removal of the personal property. It is to be placed in “the public way.” The tenant then has 24 hours to remove it. After 24 hours following the eviction the code says that “the landlord shall remove, or dispose of, any such personal property remaining in the public way.” So furniture and other belongings often sit for days at a time outside.

City Attorney Bill Hackworth presented the request to Delegate Ware saying that the code requirement created an unsightly pile of belongings for scavengers and exposure to the weather only exacerbates the problem. He also described it as a nuisance and expense to the City’s taxpayers. The legislative request was to eliminate the code provisions, thereby permitting the personal property to be retained in the residence -at least until it could be removed rather then dumped out along the street.

“There ought to be a better way to do it,” Hackworth said.

Solid Waste Management (SWM) bulk pickup is every other week with the exception of holidays. When spotted, the neighborhood calls SWM to have the belongings picked up – with luck that may take only a few days but it is still a never-ending cycle in the predominantly rental property neighborhood. The homeowners of Old Southwest are trying to change the communities perception of their downtown neighborhood.

Old Southwest neighborhood Vice-President and President of the Roanoke Neighborhood Advocates Jeff Campbell was outraged that the bill was killed in subcommittee on the first day of the legislative session.

The vote in the Courts Civil Subcommittee was (4-Y 7-N). The “nays” included local Delegates Bill Cleaveland (R-17) and Salem’s new Delegate Greg Habeeb (R-8).

Campbell commented on Richmond Sunlight saying, “The fact that this bill has been killed is just sad… If you live in a City or Municipality with high levels of rental you are forced to deal with eviction set outs day in and day out… Not to mention the perception that these set outs make on our neighborhoods… This is another form of neighborhood blight.”

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