In Sterling, apparently.
A story circulating in Sterling the past year is the Loudoun County government has cast a blind eye to many instances of squatting; specifically, when a house is foreclosed and everyone is evicted, little by little people show back up and occupy the residence. Sometimes it’s by entering through a rear entrance, sometimes former tenants of these boarding houses still having keys and going in through the front door, usually a strictly nocturnal phenomenon. People have even been seen sleeping on roofs at night, but by morning the houses are empty again.
Complaints to Loudoun County Zoning Administration, needless to say, have resulted in no action.
Well, the new trend we are heralding here at the NOVA TownHall Blog is to transform anecdotes into documented reality, and with evidence coming in from around the community and my own observations from the front driveway, we will continue that trend right here.
Exhibit One: House A from our June 23 post. You know, the one across the street from my house which Loudoun County Zoning assured us idiot citizens was perfectly above-board: “A family of six and two unrelateds” – no reason to inspect.
Well tonight, someone shows up and occupies House A which was supposedly foreclosed and all the boarders evicted from.
There are some lingering bad feelings about this particular residence, mainly because the voluminous collection of refuse in the back yard is still there:
thirty to fifty bags of garbage a variety of junkyard-style trash in the yard and the back deck piled with refuse. When the car arrived, neighbors called the police tonight and five Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office cruisers showed up, deputies surrounded the house, knocked on the doors, but whoever was inside did not open up. No warrant, so no authorization to enter.
But let’s hand it to our Sheriff’s Office: they knew the resolution of the June situation and that the house was supposed to be empty, and they did all they could – at the present time. That’s the plus side. The minus side is we still have a festering landfill right here and our government entities are apparently powerless to do anything about it – a situation that could have been entirely avoided if our zoning enforcement officer had done what obviously needed to be done about two months ago when the first complaint was filed!
Thank you, Terry Wharton. I am sure someone, somewhere, is pleased that this property owner like so many others in Sterling was given a free pass.
Alas, we’re not the only ones with a problem caused by a broken Zoning Administration division. This is 504 W. Beech (I will make no attempt to protect anyone’s privacy because this one is so egregious):
The house on the right is 504. Neighbors complained about a boarding house being run from this location for well over a year, and the house was foreclosed several months ago, yet it remained occupied. Neighbors continued to complain to no avail. When the tenants finally left they cleaned the place out, from the major appliances to cabinets to doors to the garage doors.
The house to the left of it has a For Sale sign on it – has been on the market for quite a while. Too bad for them, eh? Laws on the books are not enforced, and the law-abiding citizens of Sterling (who I am convinced our county government considers first-class “chumps”) consequently get hosed.
Yes, even windows were removed. A resident of this court said they watched all this happening, reported it to the appropriate agencies in Leesburg, and were ignored.
It gets worse. There is another specific case going on right now which may be far more revealing than either of these, because evidence is piling up about a home purchasing mortgage-and-refinancing scam which might explain much of what has been happening in our area. It appears some of these boarding houses have been the result of a loophole in lending practices, in which someone can buy multiple residences, sell and refinance them several times over, then leave with a wad of cash and sticking the lending institutions with the bill. In the lag time between purchase and physical foreclosure, the residence is rented out to illegal boarders, and the rent money kept as additional profit. Banks, and eventually taxpayers, are left to pick up the final bills.
More to come – I expect MUCH more – on that matter. The Loudoun County government, in particular the Zoning Administration division and possibly the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and some other departments, definitely has some ‘splainin’ to do, if you ask me.
UPDATE: A group of Loudoun citizens met tonight to discuss these and other issues, and the consensus was we really need to find out whether any of the members of our Board of Supervisors – beside Eugene Delgaudio – is even conscious of what is happening here. The violations would not likely be allowed to stand if they were occurring anywhere other than in Sterling.
Something is very fishy in our county government, folks. I sense a groundswell of outrage from the citizens in eastern Loudoun.
UPDATE: The car in front of House A was gone by 6:30 the next morning, and did not return last night. Yesterday afternoon someone looked in the backyard and said the gate was open and it was relatively clean, so thank goodness for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office! Even though they would not have had to be there if Zoning had done its job in the first place, our deputies do get results just by maintaining a presence. UPDATE II: Another neighbor informs me the bags of trash had been removed over a week ago so all that was back there when the deputies came was junk like car seat, wire spool, miscellaneous construction-related trash.