Chesterfield residents frustrated with county's inaction, want deserted house demolished

Chesterfield residents frustrated with county's inaction, want deserted house demolished
Rundown house on Ecoff Road in Chesterfield (Source: NBC12)

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Some Chesterfield neighbors say a nearby vacant house is hideous and should be crushed to the ground and hauled away.

It's located on Ecoff Road in the Hillandale community. Neighbors say the county's inaction is frustrating. They also claim the owner hasn't been seen at the property in years.

The county says it's keeping an eye on it. The deserted house is on its radar.

To longtime resident Joe Woodfin, the abandoned home is an eyesore and a magnet for animals and people with wrong intentions.

"The front has rotted so bad, that everything is falling in," said Woodfin. "The windows are missing at the top. This trap attracts a lot of animals and a lot of young people for whatever reason. Someone could get hurt. Someone could get bit by an animal or somebody could set something on fire again."

An officer walked the property while NBC12 was there. An annoyed resident called in a complaint to the county about the vacant house. He did a visual inspection and noted it in county records.

Ruth McNeil wants more from Chesterfield.

"Step in and take control of this property, and either take it all the way down or either bring it up to code, because we don't want to see our neighborhood go down," said McNeil. "It decreases the value of our property that just sits and deteriorates on the main street."

The county says lack of money and the building code dictate how far it can go.

"We got a complaint about this particular property last April, and we went out and it was secured and basically for a vacant property it's in decent shape," said Chesterfield Assistant Building Official Ron Clements. "We didn't feel there was much more we could do with it at that time."

Chesterfield identifies the current owner as Robert Santiago and says he has not been cited. In other words, 'unsightly' doesn't necessarily mean 'unsafe.'

"As long as it is not in danger of imminent collapse, it is secured against entry and is generally structurally sound, that's about as far as the code takes you with it," said Clements.

Not at all what frustrated neighbors want to hear. Woodfin says he's gone to the county three different times.

"They don't want you to complain. They just want you to pay your taxes and keep on going. They don't care. They don't care," said Woodfin.

County officers say they're willing to explain to any resident what they can't do and have already done. If you have a similar complaint, Chesterfield is having a community enhancement forum March 3, at the Clover Hill Tech Center on Hull Street Road from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. That may be your opportunity to talk to an inspector.

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