EDITORIAL: West York tackles blight

York Dispatch
  • West York is having a problem with some blighted properties.
  • The borough's mayor, Shawn Mauck, delivered about 750 letters to homes in the borough last week.
  • He also spoke to nearly three dozen residents, warning them of the borough's new focus on the issue.
West York Borough is taking steps to alleviate trash and blight by stepping up code enforcement. Mayor Shawn Mauck is asking residents to be good neighbors and clean up garbage and weeds and repair properties before the borough has to start issuing fines. Wednesday, July 12, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

Most folks in York County pride themselves in being ruggedly conservative.

They don’t like it much when the government sticks its nose into their private business.

That’s particularly true when it comes to their property.

The basic attitude is simple: “It’s my land and I’ll do what I want on it.”

Even property rights, however, have boundaries.

That’s true even in ruggedly conservative York County.

In West York, the mayor is trying his best to enforce those boundaries, without coming off as some kind of arrogant government tyrant who delights in telling his inferiors how to live.

Shawn Mauck should be commended for it.

That’s because West York has a problem with blighted properties, where the owners have, to put it kindly, been derelict in their home-owning duties.

There’s been illegal dumping of trash and old furniture, fences and garages in disrepair and yards overgrown by weeds.

Mauck warns West York residents over property codes

Their neighbors have noticed and voiced their displeasure to the borough.

Now Mauck is trying to do something about it.

Last week, the mayor took a walk around the borough. He said he delivered about 750 letters to homes and spoke to nearly three dozen residents. He warned them that the borough is putting a new focus on enforcing its property-maintenance and nuisance-abatement ordinances.

“We’re making a plea to them to do their part before they get a citation or warning,” Mauck said. “Nobody is excited about giving people a fine, but by the same token, we have to uphold the laws and ordinances of the borough.”

Mauck is trying to be nice about it, and he said it appears to be working. He said several residents started cleaning up their properties while they spoke to him about the borough’s ordinances. Not only is he doing it in a pleasant way, he's doing it face-to-face. And that seems to be effective.

And that’s encouraging.

Because nuisance properties can often be more than a mere nuisance for the neighbors.

They can lower property values, create health and safety dangers and lower the overall quality of life in the neighborhood.

It’s a serious issue and Mauck is giving it serious scrutiny.

Of course, at some point, Mauck and the borough won’t be able to be quite as nice with the more egregious and long-term offenders. Most likely, some citations will eventually be handed out.

That’s because there’s always a few folks who just don’t respond to courteous overtures. They’ll only remedy the situation when the reminders become fines and their wallets get lighter.

That’s a shame, but it’s the way of the world.

In the meantime, Mauck is doing his best to make sure it doesn’t get to that point. He’s hoping a few friendly reminders will do the trick.

“I think we should do all we can to make West York a better place to live,” he said.

It’s a simple concept, but one that everyone can live with, even in ruggedly conservative York County.