Manassas Journal Messenger | County maintenance program sees rise in complaints

Dump heaps, illegal signs, junk cars and outside storage containers generated about 150 more complaints this quarter than the county anticipated.

The community maintenance program has been seeing more cases resolved, but more are waiting at its feet, making the job to clean up the county a seemingly never-ending task.

The community maintenance program is in charge of making sure people clean up their yards and get rid of those junk cars.

The program has been called a victim of its own success.

There has been a 95 percent increase in new cases initiated since 2000, according to the public works department, but inspectors are hard to come by.

And even though Prince William County’s budget has enough money for 12 inspectors, it employs 10.

Still, the number of resolved cases is up.

Summonses for zoning violations have more than doubled in the past three years and the number of resolved cases since 2000 has increased by almost 1,000.

Officials attributed the rise to a renewed attention to code enforcement and more staff. In 2000, there were six inspectors employed. This year the county budget allows for four more.

The community maintenance program performs sweeps in aging neighborhoods where complaints are heard most.

In the past year, more than 7,000 properties have been inspected during these sweeps.

Supervisor Hilda Barg, D- Woodbridge, said she’s been hearing new complaints from people who turn single family homes into two and three apartments.

Her Republican opponent, Ron Robinson, agreed that community maintenance is a key issue in Woodbridge.

Woodbridge and Neabsco districts generated the most open cases — 785. The Sudley Road corridor generated 230 open cases, while the Lake Ridge and mid-county area has 178.

Officials attribute the larger amount of cases to areas that are aging and don’t have home owners associations.

The mostly rural Brentsville area generated 48 cases.

Since the public works department took over community maintenance program in 1998, the county has seen more and more cases and abatements.

More criminal cases have also been filed, but 95 percent of cases are voluntarily abated, according to the county attorney office.

And that’s the cheapest way to resolve a case.

In fiscal year 2003, the county attorney’s office referred a total of 338 summonses involving 126 addresses.

More than 270 were civil and 64 were criminal summonses, according to the county attorney’s office.

That’s a 244-case increase since 2001. Of violations in 2003, outside storage containers (92 cases) and dump heaps (93 cases) piled onto the top.

Thirteen commercial vehicle violations were reported and five illegal accessory structures were found.

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