Coeburn eliminating blight to become 'trail town'


COEBURN, Va. - Another southwest Virginia town has high hopes for a tourism boom and becoming known as "trail town." To make it happen, Coeburn leaders are clamping down on abandoned and neglected properties.

Coeburn is already a trail-friendly town with the expansion of the Mountain View Spearhead Trail from St. Paul.

"We need bed and breakfast. We need motels. We need all of these things to accommodate the trail riders that we have coming in," Vice Mayor Sharon Still said.

Town leaders say now is the time to clean up blight.

Town manager Drew Mullins said, "I want to take an aggressive role in trying to clean up the town, make it a little more inviting for people to come in."

Mullins and council members are identifying properties not up to code. Some may be condemned or owners cited by building inspectors in an effort to try to force improvements.

"All of these homes. I'm not going in and tearing someone's family apart or trying to evict someone from their home. This is all abandoned properties that need to be cleaned up that's just been neglected," Mullins said.

News 5 talked with some residents who are happy to hear it.

"This town needs cleaning up a whole lot," Lige Franklin Branham said.

So far, one building has been demolished and several others have been identified as uninhabitable.

Still said, "We feel like anything that is not pretty, that is not up-to-date, not modernized, not cleaned up, is a blight to the town, and if we can get that cleaned up, it will be more inviting to the people to want to visit more."

Town leaders say property owners will be notified of possible violations and will have a chance to respond to citations issued.

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