Abandoned Properties: A Growing Problem in Sussex County - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Abandoned Properties: A Growing Problem in Sussex County

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GEORGETOWN, Del. - Members from the Sussex County council say abandoned homes are increasingly becoming a problem in the county. From Laurel and Georgetown to Lewes and everywhere in between, they said something needs to be done to address this issue.

Bob Wheatley of the Planning and Zoning Commission said that there is a procedure for condemning homes in the code, but said it's not used very often. The section can be found in the "Housing Standards"section of the code in chapter 71, section 32. This section delineates the proper procedure for condemning homes in the county, although Wheatley said that it has rarely been used over the last couple decades.

Council members have called for something to change, in order to make the process more clear, although no official ordinance has been proposed at this point. 

"What has to happen is someone has to define the problem," Wheatley said. "Define the scope of the problem, as in how big of a problem is it. Then begin to investigate some alternatives as to what we need to do about this." 

He said the abandoned homes are problematic for two main reasons. He said the obvious problem is that they create an eye sore, although he said the bigger issue is one of safety.

"If they're falling down, they're dangerous," he said. "If they're attracting kids or if they're attracting homeless, where someone might get hurt that would be my first concern." 

If a county ordinance were proposed, it would only apply to properties in unincorporated portions of the county. Towns have their own individual policies for clearing these abandoned homes. 
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