Neglected properties causing headaches in 2 counties - - Columbia, South Carolina

Dilapidated properties causing headaches in 2 counties


Dilapidated properties are a $20 million problem in Kershaw County alone.

A Richland County woman has not one, but three dilapidated properties in her neighborhood and has found little help getting the problems addressed. The neighborhood straddles the Richland-Kershaw County line.

While one county is working to clean up the problem, the other says it's not in the budget.

"This debris here and these broken down trailers make our whole community look bad," said Patsy Gibbs Hargrove. She has a personal stake in the roadway.

"This road is named in honor of my dad," she said.

Hargrove is out weekly picking up litter, but her tongs aren't big enough to clean up her neighborhood, nor does she have permission.  None of the properties have doors or windows, and the debris is piling up.

"It's getting worse," she said. "And you see that big pile of trash back there? It's becoming a dumping ground."

She called Richland County to complain, who sent her to Kershaw County, and that's when she called WIS. 

Here's what we found: The county line splits the middle of the three mobile homes, putting two in Kershaw County and the other in Richland County.  We found three owners, but had little luck making contact with them. 

Richland County will have one property declared derelict and demolished, but that takes time and money.

"The first step is you have to do a petition to have it declared abandoned and derelict and you have to have it posted for 30 days," said Kecia Lara with the Richland County Planning Department.  "Then you go back to the second court date and you ask the judge to have it destroyed and you have to have it posted for another 30 days."

We also asked Kershaw County Administrators and found there are fewer regulations than Richland County when it comes to holding owners responsible.

And then there's funding.

"It's significantly an issue of cost and can you even afford to start a program such as that?" asked Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter. "It's not a situation that we've necessarily been aware of at this point."

"Well the person I talked to apparently didn't follow through," said Hargrove.

Other neighbors say it's a well-known problem.

"This place is known for this and if all this is gone that would probably change," said Christopher Payton.

Carpenter suggests neighbors confront the owners for quicker results.

"But I don't know who the owners are, so I'm at zero," said Hargrove.

"It's not worth me or her or any single person in the community trying to put a stop to it because it is a safety risk for not only us trying to stop it, but just us driving by," said Payton.

Both say this is where their tax dollars should be going.

"We're tax paying citizens and I expect help," said Hargrove.

As citizens, they have no authority to force property owners to clean up.

Kershaw County tells us if the property is a threat, health, or safety issue, there are ways, pointing us to more agencies, leaving residents asking what's it going to take to get action.

Richland County is working to get the property on its side torn down by year's end.

WIS will keep calling agencies in Kershaw County to see what can done about the other two mobile homes.

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