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It's time to clean up city's porches and yards

Mar. 28, 2013 @ 11:20 PM

Sitting on your front porch is not a bad idea.

In fact, in the years before air-conditioning, "porch sitting" was a way of life during the summer months in many places. Residents could enjoy a little breeze at dusk and chat with their neighbors passing by as they waited for the rooms inside to feel the evening cool.

But there is the question of what you sit on.

The outdoor furniture industry provides a host of products that are ready to stand up to the weather, from stately wooden rockers to all manners of metal and plastic seating.

Upholstered couches or recliners, unfortunately, do not work out so well.

What might seem to be a comfy arrangement on a warm August night, typically turns into a soggy mess in the rain and snow. The worn furniture begins to fall apart and sometimes becomes a haven for rodents and insects. Plus, it looks awful.

Over the past decade, many cities and towns have taken steps to get the couches off the porch, and this week Huntington City Council took that action as well. It may not be universally applauded -- male college students seem to love porch couches as much as beer signs -- but it was the right thing to do.

Huntington has made great strides on improving the city's appearance, tackling big issues such as dilapidated housing and graffiti. The Huntington Police Department also has done a commendable job of reducing the crime that often creates a climate for blight.

But it also makes sense to require reasonable maintenance of personal property.

The new ordinance would prohibit residents from storing upholstered furniture, mattresses and any other items not intended for outdoor use on their porches or in their front yards. It also prohibits building materials from being stored outdoors unless they are for a permitted project on the property.

The ordinance takes effect July 1, and penalties will include fines of up to $500, up to 30 days in jail or both.

But the city's goal is not to rake in a lot of fines. The goal is to get homeowners to clean up their property.

Plans are to place trash bins in neighborhoods around the city before the ordinance takes effect and give residents a free opportunity to dispose of junk and debris from their porches and yards.

We encourage homeowners and landlords to take advantage of that opportunity and help improve the appearance of their property and the city as whole.

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