Our opinion: Blight is more than minor fixes

A blight designation on a Frank Street property divided members of Warren’s Blighted Property Review Committee — and with good reason.

The property has a few issues — gutters and downspouts need to be replaced and there are issues with the chimney. It was eligible for a blight designation because there is no water service to the property.

To their credit, committee members themselves recognized the property doesn’t appear blighted before making the designation as a way to make the property owner take action to fix the home’s issues.

Still, a look at the property doesn’t make one think immediately of a blighted property. Surely there are worse properties in Warren that better meet the definition of a blighted property and could better benefit from a blight designation.We tend to agree with committee member Denise Whipp, who noted “(There are) plenty of others that should have been a priority coming to us. This should have been on the bottom of the list.”

Whipp joined the rest of the committee in adding the Frank Street property to the city’s blight list. We urge caution on these types of properties in the future. While neighbors of the Frank Street property approached city staff asking when something would be done, declaring a seemingly decent property as blighted while other more dilapidated properties haven’t been designated as blighted raises some red flags. A red flag regarding possibly picking on a property owner is raised when one reason to declare the Frank Street property as blighted because the property’s owner has another property likely to come before the committee even though the first property looks fairly typical from the outside.

It is is clear the property met the statutory definition of blighted on somewhat of a technicality. But in our opinion there have to be worse properties that need attention.


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