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County takes action to clean up blight

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 20th, 2013

County commissioners voted unanimously on March 13 to declare that this East Alamosa property at 391 E. 3rd St. is blighted. The board gave the owners 30 days to clean up the mess. Courier photos by Rudy Herndon

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — It’s been 12 years since county officials first heard from an East Alamosa resident who was upset about a nuisance property in the area.

In the meantime, the complaint forms continued to pile up, and officials found that the owners are in violation of the county’s anti-blight ordinance. Yet the property at 391 E. Third St. still looks a lot like it did in 2001: Household trash, discarded furniture, old tires and abandoned cars are clustered around a recreational vehicle on the otherwise vacant land.

The county’s land use office gave the owners of the property several warnings before it ordered them to correct the violations by Feb. 25. That date came and went, yet the violations are still there, according to Alamosa County Code Enforcement Officer Jinger Getz.

“There has been no improvement,” she told county commissioners during their March 13 meeting. “There are no signs of change at all.”

Commissioner Marianne Dunne speculated that the owners may brush off those warnings with a question: “So what?”

But she and the rest of the board are taking action to ensure that neighbors’ complaints about trash and debris on the land don’t go unanswered.

By a 3-0 vote, the board declared that blight exists on the property; it also gave the owners 30 days to clean up the mess.

Alamosa County Land Use Manager Juan Altamirano said he believes that 60 days would give the owners a reasonable amount of time to meet the county’s requirements.

But Commission Chair Darius Allen felt that a 30-day limit would get the ball rolling.

Under the county’s anti-blight ordinance, property owners have the right to appeal the board’s decisions at the district court level. But if the owners fail to do so, they automatically waive the right to challenge the county’s actions, and they will be held liable for any “reasonable costs” the county incurs to clean up their land.

In that case, the costs would become liens on the property; the county treasurer would also have the right to collect a 10 percent collection penalty.

The E. Third Street site is just one of many blighted properties that Getz, Altamirano and the commissioners are working to clean up.

The board is scheduled to hold at least nine more “show cause” hearings between now and April 24. (A show cause hearing gives commissioners the chance to review any related evidence or testimony before they determine whether or not blight exists on a property.)

Those who live in an unincorporated area and would like to report a potentially blighted property can find copies of violation complaint forms at the county’s land use office at 402 Edison Ave. To learn more about the county’s blight ordinance, call 589-3812.

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