A Havre woman is leading a campaign to tackle blight that would include targeting property owners who let their vacant, rundown properties disintegrate while refusing offers to sell.
Samantha Clawson, who has grown up in Havre and works at Montana State University-Northern, would like to see a VPRO – vacant property registry ordinance – be implemented. VPROs, she said, targets property owners who don’t take the responsibility to maintain their property. Similar ordinances have been passed all over the country, including one by the government of Butte-Silver Bow last year called “Vacant Buildings.”
The ideal ordinance, Clawson said, would be customized to best suit the Havre area. She met with county officials Monday and presented the idea during that night’s Havre City Council meeting. The responses, she said, have been “really good.”
Clawson said she has been concerned about Havre’s derelict properties for some time, but was recently prompted to action after she went litter collecting a few weeks ago.
The hiking and walkway promotion group Havre Trails presented a challenge to walk in the community and pick up trash, she said. During the litter-collecting walk with her husband and children, Clawson said, she walked past the conspicuous gray, 12-unit vacant row of apartments with boarded windows on Fifth Avenue.
“By the time we got to the end of the block, we’d filled a bag full of garbage – because nobody is maintaining the property. Those lilac bushes were just filled with all kinds of plastic and garbage,” she said.
Clawson was bothered by more than just the trash she collected.
“My son wanted to go up the steps…
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