Dilapidated structures costs explored

WELLSBURG – Having received a state grant for the removal of dilapidated structures, the Brooke County Commission is attempting to determine which to pursue first.

Earlier this year the commission was awarded a $20,978 Governor’s Community Partnership Grant to demolish houses and buildings that have been condemned due to health or safety risks.

Commission President Tim Ennis said the problem is the grant doesn’t cover the many candidates for demolition.

“Removing one dilapidated structure could eat up most or all of the money,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said there are at least 50 structures, most of them vacant, that could be targeted.

He said in an effort to make the most of the money, estimates will be sought for several possible demolitions.

Andreozzi said Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson has been asked to help in determining which buildings should receive top priority. He said whether a structure is at risk of collapsing or creating another danger or has become infested with vermin will be considered in addition to the cost to raze it.

“I don’t think it can be based only on which are the oldest,” he said.

Andreozzi added, “We’re going to try to recoup the money also. Just because it’s grant money doesn’t mean we’re going to let the property owners off the hook.”

A county ordinance adopted in recent years gives owners of dilapidated structures 30 days to repair or remove them. After that, they may be fined $100 per day. If the owners continue not to respond, the county may condemn the structures, order their demolition and place a lien on the property so if it is ever sold, the commission may recoup the costs for demolition.

But the commission has lacked the funds to remove the structures, though former county Sheriff Richard Ferguson secured a $15,000 state grant to remove or clean up several trailer sites.

In other business, the commission said it has a couple of potential candidates for the Hammond Public Service District Board but it welcomes others who are interested.

The commission will preside over today’s Hammond PSD board meeting after the board’s three members resigned, citing personal issues. The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the board’s office.

Andreozzi said the commission will assist the new members in addressing some financial issues faced by the district, including outstanding debt and replacement of equipment.

Letters of interest should be sent to the office of County Clerk Sylvia Benzo at the county courthouse.