The Surry County Board of Commissioners for the first time exercised its new power to force private property owners to clean up their property.
The case in point is at 154 Pine Drive, and is the location of a burned-out building whose shell is still standing — barely — in addition to a lot that is overgrown.
Having government step forward and tell a private property owner what to do with their land and building is, on its surface, the antithesis of the American ideal of individual rights and property ownership. However, there are times when this type of action is needed, when the action, or inaction, of a private property owner can pose a public health nuisance to the general neighborhood.
This is one of those cases.
We do not believe the Surry County commissioners take this action lightly. The people on this board, by and large do not enjoy meddling in private affairs and believe strongly that individual rights should generally be preserved and respected, that government intrusion is generally bad.
But this property does pose a potential safety hazard, and it certainly devalues all of the surrounding property, and we believe the board acted appropriately in taking action Monday night to require the owner to clean up the lot.