Neighborhood wants county to remove abandoned homes

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Abandoned homes are attracting unwanted people and dropping home values in Chesterfield County.

Last month, an abandoned house in Midlothian went up in flames.  It's part of a cluster of deserted homes that folks in Chesterfield want crushed.  The homes are on a cul-de-sac off Depot Street, near Midlothian Turnpike and the Salisbury community.

A deserted cul-de-sac in Chesterfield is dropping home values and terrifying residents.  Since 2007, the county's tried to control a handful of abandoned homes that are in bad shape.  Rather than continuing to board them shut, some neighbors who live off Depot Street in Midlothian want those houses destroyed.

On January 5, an abandoned house on Depot Street crumbled during a fire.   It was at that point NBC12 learned a handful of homes in the cul-de-sac are deserted.   The properties are owned by people who live out-of-state.   But people who live in the neighborhood which borders Salisbury refuse to accept the rejected homes as part of their community

What was once a treasure for the people who lived in those homes, is now trash for neighbors to deal with.  A trio of rejected homes hidden by prickly weeds were unable to stand the test of time.

With the windows and doors wide open, we walked through the homes.  The roof of one house collapsed.  In the middle of the home, a stack of bricks that used to be the chimney.

Chesterfield inspectors have made repeated visits since 2007.  Each time they post golden "danger" notices that order the out-of-state property owners to board up or tear down the homes within 30 days.

"I stood right here on my porch and flames and the black smoke," explained neighbor Diane Benton.

Last month Diane Benton watched the empty home that sat less than a half-mile from her home burn to the ground.  She admitted she felt relief as she watched the home melt away.

"It's kind of like, when that burns down it's kind of like that's one more gone," said Benton.

She woman who's lived in the neighborhood for a decade doesn't dare walk down her street at night.

"No. I don't go that way at all," said Benton. Why not?  "I'm just afraid because with the houses being empty like that you don't know who may be down there. At one time there was someone that was sleeping in a tent. And then I noticed sometimes there's people you'll see go down there, but you don't see them coming back."

At this point, county inspectors said the unsafe buildings need to go. Chesterfield wants the owners to pay for the demolition.  If they refuse, taxpayers get the bill.

There are several abandoned homes scattered throughout the county.   In the last five years the county's demolished eight buildings, totaling $65,000.

Today we alerted code enforcement to the overgrown grass -- they are now working to get it cut.

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