Laurel Residents Tackling Run-down Homes - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Laurel Residents Tackling Run-down Homes

 LAUREL, Del. (WBOC) - For months people who live in Laurel have been bringing their concerns to the council about the condition of abandoned homes and run-down landlord-owned properties. As the council works on an ordinance to deal with these concerns, neighbors are stepping up to help.

Town manager Jamie Smith says the draft ordinance is pushing to limit the number of days that boards can stay on doors/and or windows without the consent of the Director of Code Enforcement of the town of Laurel. Currently the ordinance says objectionable objects include abandoned or inoperable vehicles, old tires, machinery, crates, cartons, old furniture, appliances and other obvious junk, salvage, boarded windows and/or doors, or unsightly objects.

Fred Adams lives on East Sixth Street. He's taking on a new project.

"We all worked on the property to get it ready to start painting it," said Adams, referencing a home across the street.

Last week, his wife filed a formal complaint about that particular property. He and his neighborhood crime watch group decided to contact the owner
of the property and offer to help.

"Luckily enough we've got a landlord that will listen to us and go along. We're helping him, he's helping us. One hand washing the other pretty much," said Adams.

The neighbors rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Power washing, edging along the sidewalk, cutting back trees and filling the holes in the driveway with dirt so the landlord can then put in stones.

"The sidewalk had been overgrown with grass and trash. It was almost like a jungle over here," said Adams, pointing to a freshly-trimmed tree.

They filled in the cracks in posts on the porch and got it ready for a fresh coat of paint all on their own time, using donated materials.

Morley Daehn lives next door to the property and said the effort is all about improving the town.

"We're just sprucing up the place, making it look nicer, making it fit into the neighborhood so that a nice family is going to see this and want to come in and join our neighborhood," said Daehn.

Tackling the matter head-on with just one hope, "by us doing something like this that other neighborhoods would do similar things to try to help bring the town up," said Adams.

Laurel town manager Jamie Smith said the council will be discussing the proposed ordinance again at the council meeting on Oct. 20. She said they will also discuss other suggestions brought up by people of the town, such as increased fines for the owners of these properties.

"Sometimes it's not necessarily a bad landlord, it's just maybe a landlord that doesn't think he's got the money to fix it up. I think hopefully we'll prove that it doesn't take that much to make it pleasing to the eye," said Adams.

"It's really nice that the town, you know when you go to the town meeting, that the council members make comments about how they appreciate what we're trying to do," said Daehn.

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