John Newby is the author of the “Building Main Street, Not Wall Street” column dedicated to helping communities combine synergies with local media companies allowing them to not just survive but to thrive.

In a recent article Newby takes on the subject of blight, focusing on what MuniReg has championed since our formation. Though property owners have rights that must be protected, the rights of the neighbors are equal. The negative consequences of vacant or blighted properties to neighboring properties are well documented (many on our website), well beyond “simply” being an “eyesore”. From increased crime rates, health issues, and lower property values

Though we have not (yet) experienced the referenced situation which seems to imply blight is totally ignored, we have come across many situations where concerns for the rights of the property owner is prioritized above all other considerations.

Striking the right balance between protecting everyone’s rights, while balancing other challenges i.e. lack of resources is a herculean, but necessary task. In the numerous of reports that we have seen or read where local leaders are confronted with a challenge of infringement to “my rights”, rarely do we see what should be the first response.

“We value your rights, but equally value the rights of the neighboring property owner. Your action/inaction is an infringement on the rights of …..”

We at MuniReg understand the need to strike a balance that is why we don’t advocate for risky and too broad ordinance language, excessive registration fees and penalties, or overly aggressive enforcement on the penalties etc. (subject of a future blog post.)

Following are some critical points Newby makes. To view the article in its entirety, please click on the following link:
John Newby: Allowing blight in name of ‘freedom’ damaging communities

“They in fact are allowing blight, decay and uncaring to have greater freedom than those who want to live in a community that is a desirable place to work, live and play. The minority is being allowed to hold the community hostage and draining whatever future that community might have.”

“Shamefully, communities will allow trash to accumulate, attracting rats, animals and diseases that spill over onto nearby properties.”

“What about the rights of those nearby property owners?”

“Don’t the nearby owners have any freedom or rights to live in a clean area?”

“They in fact are allowing blight, decay and uncaring to have greater freedom than those who want to live in a community that is a desirable place to work, live and play. The minority is being allowed to hold the community hostage and draining whatever future that community might have.”

“You will always have a few residents who will yell and scream they have rights to live as they wish; you must push ahead and think of the good of the community as a whole.”

It is clear that Newby, is passionate about strong communities and his article is a case of “tough love”.

Well said Mr Newby, well said!