Brooke Commission to Take Tough Approach Against Property Infringements | News, Sports, Jobs
WELLSBURG — Brooke County commissioners said they will take a tougher approach against owners of dilapidated structures and neglected properties.
A county ordinance approved in 2005 states that homeowners can be fined $100 per day for accumulation of debris, disrepair, overgrown vegetation, fire hazard, toxic condition, risk of accident/injury or lack of ventilation, lighting or sanitary facilities as well as “other conditions which render the accommodation or building unsafe, unsanitary, dangerous or injurious to public safety and welfare.”
The order also allows the commission to authorize the demolition of a structure and other remedies, then place a lien on the property to recover the costs.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Commission Chairman AJ Thomas said the commission may also seek a court order for the sale of the property.
But he noted that landlords also have 30 days to correct complaints against them and 10 days, after notification, to request a hearing before the commission.
Thomas acknowledged that fines and legal action are tools that have been available to the commission but have been rarely used.
Instead, the late Anthony “Mannish” Rotellini and others employed as part-time home inspectors persuaded and urged homeowners to action.
Thomas said Rotellini’s efforts resulted in the destruction of more than 100 dilapidated buildings by their owners.
But despite this, says Thomas, “We have had cases open for years and no corrective action has been taken.”
Brooke County Magistrate Shannon Price asked if assistance was available for elderly people unable to maintain their property.
The United States Department of Agriculture offers grants and low-interest loans to very low-income homeowners through its Rural Development Program.
Loans over 20 years, at 1% interest, are capped at $40,000, while grants cannot exceed $10,000. Information can be obtained by calling the USDA office in West Virginia at (304) 284-4860 or (800) 295-8228.
But Thomas said most of the cases the commission has come across have not involved older people unable to maintain or repair the homes they live in.
He said many are unoccupied properties inherited by descendants of the original owners who live far away and have little interest in them, and some were acquired relatively cheaply by private individuals when the county put them up for auction because that no tax had been paid on them.
Thomas noted that the county’s efforts only apply to unincorporated areas of the county.
In other cases, the committee:
≤ Approved the hiring of John Cox and John Bado as part-time security guards/bailiffs for the County Courthouse at the request of Sheriff Rich Beatty.
≤ Agreed to accept letters of interest in three seats representing Brooke County on the Northern Panhandle HOME Consortium. The council oversees the Home Buyers’ Program, which lends up to $10,000 to income-eligible first-time home buyers in Brooke, Hancock, Ohio and Marshall counties for a down payment and closing costs. a home in the four counties.
The program is administered locally by CHANGE Inc.
The commission also continues to seek volunteers interested in serving on county museum and library boards.
Letters of interest for the HOME Consortium and Museum Board should be sent to County Clerk Kimberly Barbetta’s office at the County Courthouse, while letters for the Library Board should be sent to the Director of the library, Alexandra Schneider.
≤ Announcement that the courthouse will be closed on Friday, June 16, following Governor Jim Justice’s recent designation of the courthouse as a statutory holiday; and Monday for West Virginia Day, the anniversary of West Virginia’s statehood.