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TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2007
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EDITORIAL

Change in Decatur is not progressive

The most immediate challenge in Decatur is to get residents and City Hall to understand that junked cars and front-lawn parking are a pocketbook issue.

Blight drives down property values, makes houses more difficult to rent or sell and discourages people from moving to Decatur.

Allowing people to park cars on front lawns is not fair to the majority of the city's property owners because it causes their property to depreciate, too.

Now is the time for City Hall to stop saying, "We've always allowed this," as a reason to do little about the number of vehicles on lawns.

It's time for City Hall to stop saying that officials fear lawsuits if they enact an ordinance. City Hall must be aggressive and creative in dealing with inoperable cars sitting around homes, too.

Blight starts with one resident, then it becomes the cancer that causes block after block of inner-city property to lose value. Decatur is in a dilemma over lack of growth. City Hall claims it's in overload and can't catch up at enforcing present ordinances against blight. Builders say they can't afford to build in the suburbs because the city doesn't run sewer lines to subdivisions.

Decatur growth is stymied.

It is tempting to say that Decatur must change, but the city already is changing. Look around and see the residential patterns. Then there are the patterns that are not visible because they are not here.

Decatur isn't building new houses but Priceville, Athens, Madison and Huntsville are. Older neighborhoods often are more valuable than new subdivisions in cities where City Hall makes the commitment to protect property values. For instance, Montgomery, Homewood and Madison have ordinances that require residents to park on approved driveways.

Older neighborhoods can come back but City Hall must be a full partner in the rebirth. Remember that Decatur is changing and the present change is not good.

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