Dilapidation draws questions

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Commission was asked Tuesday about efforts to address dilapidated structures in the county.

Resident Margaret Ferrari asked about the issue, saying she had encountered several eyesores and is concerned also about vermin.

She noted deteriorating houses can hurt the property values of neighboring properties.

Commission President Tim Ennis noted the commisson’s newly formed dilapidated structure committee has identified hundreds of such buildings and the commission has secured a $20,978 Governor’s Community Partnership Grant to aid in the removal of those condemned by the county.

But the commissioners acknowledged the funds won’t go far in addressing all of the properties.

And County Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said he doesn’t support spending local taxes to remove buildings that are private property owners’ responsibility.

Instead, the commission hopes there will be more cooperation from property owners.

A county ordinance against dilapidated structures gives the owners 30 days to repair or remove them. After that, they may be fined $100 per day.

If the owner fails to act, the county may condemn a structure, order its demolition and place a lien on the property so if it is ever sold, the commission may recoup the costs for demolition.

Ennis noted the ordinance doesn’t apply to cities, where the commission doesn’t have jurisdiction, though some have their own ordinances.

Andreozzi said the commission has seen some cooperation from property owners.

Ennis added he’s optimistic about the dilapidated structure committee, which includes Rich Ferguson, who began cataloging and targeting ramshackled houses and trailers in recent years as the county’s sheriff.

Current Sheriff Chuck Jackson also serves on the committee.

In other business, County Clerk Sylvia Benzo noted April 22 is the last day to register for the May 13 primary election.

The election will include races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, state Senate and House of Delegates and a seat on the county commission as well as determining renewal of two county levies supporting area fire departments, the county’s ambulance service and other county services.

Early voting will be held at the county courthouse from April 30 through May 10.