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Victoria moves to inspect blighted properties

Victoria Town Manager Rodney Newton is now also the town’s property maintenance inspector as it moves toward addressing blighted properties.

Newton was made Property Maintenance Inspector by the council at the end of 2019 after completing three Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development courses that year and passing the certification exam.

“The plan is to work with the owners of blighted property to either make repairs to the structures or to remove the structures,” he said. “Our goal is to work throughout the town to attempt to tackle the blighted property issues as well as other property maintenance issues.”

Blight is a problem in town as Victoria has many structures that are in need of repair, Newton said.

The inspector’s position had been contracted out in the past and it was decided to try a different route, he said.

Several years ago, the town started enforcing an ordinance requiring residents to keep their grass cut — and not everyone was happy about it.

At the same time, the issue of blighted, abandoned properties were vexing Kenbridge Town Council so much so that the matter regularly appearing as an agenda item at the monthly meeting.

The problem was primarily heir property, land passed down informally from generation-to-generation until it was owned “in common” by a number of descendants, regardless of whether they live on the land, pay the taxes, or have ever even set foot on it. Such property usually isn’t worth much and nobody is paying taxes — and nobody wants to take on the expense for property that they don’t individually own, Kenbridge officials explained at the time.