Antis progress derailed

Dilapidated properties have no place in any community.

They’re unsightly and often dangerous. They erode the value of neighboring properties. But an even broader negative impact is how they diminish the character and appeal of the municipalities in which they exist, especially if there’s more than an isolated case of such unwanted conditions.

Dilapidation negatively affects tax revenue.

Officials of every community should watch for signs of it and be proactive in addressing it.

Back in 2015, dilapidated properties were in Antis Township’s spotlight, and in less than a half-year it seemed as if the township’s supervisors had adopted an aggressive stance toward dealing with them.

In October of that year, about four months after the blight issue took over the spotlight of township business, the supervisors held a special hearing at which they set a 30-day deadline for significant improvements to be made to a property on Sabbath Rest Road.

They said if improvements weren’t made the structure would be ordered demolished.

Beyond that, Township Manager Lucas Martsolf said actions similar to what was happening regarding the Sabbath Rest Road property would become more common as the municipality moved to address other blighted properties.

In an Oct. 9, 2015, editorial, the Mirror observed that “Antis appears to finally be on the right track. It must guard against being derailed.”

Unfortunately, the township apparently has become the victim of “derailment.”

On Sunday, the Mirror reported that dilapidated properties again had become a point of concern on March 2; several township residents brought up the topic at a supervisors meeting, including Dick Himes of Grandview Road.

Himes told the supervisors that a structure next to his property had fallen into such disrepair that “it is totally collapsing.”

He said he was “totally getting fed up with it” and asked the supervisors to take action.

Residents who remember Martsolf’s 2015 promise of more aggressive anti-blight action probably are wondering why the issue is revisiting the township’s business agenda again. Perhaps, community residents are part of the reason why aggressive action hasn’t continued.

Martsolf said during the March 2 discussion that there was little that the township could do without a formal report about a blighted property made to the township’s codes officer.

That is the first step, he said.

Whether or not residents are aware of that, it’s human nature for people to be reluctant to speak out because of not wanting to cause friction between themselves and others.

But elected and appointed leaders have the responsibility to act in the best interests of their community and not be dissuaded because feelings might be hurt.

Leaders reluctant to act shouldn’t be sitting in positions of responsibility.

During 2015’s discussion, supervisors acknowledged knowing about the Sabbath Rest Road property’s poor condition for more than two years, yet the problem property was ignored. During the latest discussion, it was clear that the Grandview Road property’s condition wasn’t unknown to the supervisors, yet nothing had been done.

Oftentimes, municipal leaders’ inaction is blight’s greatest ally. Unfortunately, that apparently is the situation in Antis.