The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Opinion: Messy neighbors can't be forced to meet our standards


December 16, 2018

The problem first appeared in biblical times.

Deuteronomy 19:14 tried to resolve it: “You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark ...”

Alas, property disputes remain.

Public officials in Roswell and Chaves County have had a series of meetings recently to complain about private property owners who won’t clean up their messes.

Members of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. are concerned that unkept property could have a negative impact on economic development.

Sound familiar? Yep, pretty much the same problem Clovis and Curry County have been having for years, especially on U.S. 60-70-84, which is not a great first impression for new personnel at Cannon Air Force Base or for potential business investors.

Most municipalities have ordinances that address unsafe buildings, roof-high weeds, standing water that attracts mosquitos, etc.

Roswell, like Clovis, has the legal authority to condemn property, take ownership and clean it up.

But Roswell, like Clovis, doesn’t have the money or the workforce to make the city’s main thoroughfares pretty enough for a picture postcard.

Money and workforce, of course, are also key reasons many private property owners don’t keep their grass mowed, their fences painted, or their trash picked up to the degree that others would always like.

Try as we may, we can’t seem to make real-life Mabry Drive look like the fictional Mayberry, North Carolina.

This age-old knowledge will not stop government from trying to solve the problem, of course — through coercion and force, of course. Which never works.

One idea that might work would be for government to use its resources and try to help clean up the most blighted areas, with the property owners’ permission. Government could at least encourage volunteers to help clean up messy places, maybe even offer tax breaks. But that would require some higher-level thinking that’s seldom associated with city councils or county commissions.

And no amount of money or workforce will ever result in somebody else’s property looking as nice as somebody wants it to look anyway.

So there’s really only one solution, for Roswell’s and for Clovis’ blight, that makes much sense:

Encourage your neighbors to clean up, help each other as best you can, and then live and let live.

— David Stevens

Publisher, Clovis Media Inc.


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