“Abandoned buildings and dilapidated structures are health hazards, eye sores and some are even being used as illegal drug dens,” Brown said.
On Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, the commission had two Abandoned Building/Delapidated Structure Board hearings on two separate properties. The commission, along with Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph and Boone County Abandoned Buildings President Mike Vickers, sent a clear message to the owners of these types of properties.
“Tear down these houses, buildings and structures and clean up the property or the county will have it done and take the property owners to Circuit Court to recover the costs associated with doing this,” Randolph said.
"The best case scenario is that the property owner, once contacted by the abandoned building commission takes the steps to clean that piece of property up," Randolph added.
If the cleanup doesn't happen by the property owner, the county then steps in, will hire contractors to clean up, or in some cases, demolish the property. A lien will then be put on the property and a forced sale could also take place, Randolph explained.
The first property is located in Ottawa. In addition to overgrown brush and the fact the abandoned house is failing in, it was reported by law enforcement as being an alleged drug house.
After looking a pictures of the property, submitted by Vickers as evidence in the hearing, commissioners unanimously agreed to give the property owner 120 days to clean up the property. The property is owned by H.C. Woods.
The second hearing concerned a property in Nellis.
Charlie Stevenson grew up in that Nellis property. He told commissioners he lost his job and did not have the money for upkeep.
“It needs clean up,” he said. “I know that I should have done something long ago, but it was the house I grew up in and it was hard to accept what was happening to it. I hate seeing it like that.”
He was given 120 days to clean the property. After that, he will be fined $10 per day the property goes without cleanup.
"I think I have someone interested in buying the property," Stevenson said. “I know they will clean it up and I hope to sell it soon.”
The commission, the county prosecutor, and county abandoned buildings board said they will be looking at more abandoned and dilapidated buildings, homes and properties and doing whatever they have to get them cleaned up.
“This issue is important to our communities and we are taking it very seriously,” said Commissioner Atholl Halstead.
“This is something that needs to be done and we are going to take on this serious issue the best way we can,” added Commissioner Eddie Hendricks.
The commission estimated that there are “dozens” of abandoned buildings, homes and dilapidated structures in the county.
In other Boone County Commission news:
• The Boone County Commission followed the lead of West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and passed a motion declaring county workers will be excused from work on Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. The week before, Tomblin declared a proclamation giving public employees of West Virginia State the entire day of Christmas Eve off. The state rules require public employees receive Monday afternoon off from work when Christmas Day occurs on a Tuesday. The governor's proclamation results in a full day off on this upcoming Christmas Eve. Additional time off for state employees on Christmas Eve will not be attributed to annual leave. The same will be in effect for Boone County workers. The governor's proclamation and the Boone County Commission’s decision has no effect on private business, local government or others not employed by the state of West Virginia or Boone County. The proclamation and decision does not affect the work requirements of public employees who may be called to duty to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of West Virginians and Boone County. Tomblin had said that county commissions may designate the day as time off for county employees without impacting employees' annual leave. The courts may treat the day as if it were a legal holiday, Tomblin added.
• Boone County Commission President Mickey Brown signed the contract for a $100,000 grant from the WV Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority for a fire suppression system (sprinklers) for the courthouse basement area, which houses the Magistrate Court, Assessors Tax Map area and several other offices. The grant period is from Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2013. Larry Lodato, the county’s grant writer, said the commission will probably start the project in the spring by seeking competitive bidding.
• Larry Greene, Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Investigator, reported that the county saved approximately $26,000 this past year by obtaining credits from improper or over-billing by the jail system. Greene was praised by the commission for his work in this area.
• The commission approved a development permit for Jesse Osborne of Uneeda to take out a pool and put in a trailer on his property in Uneeda. Greg Lay, Emergency Management Agency Director for the county, recommended the commission approve the permit.
• Little League President Dee Dee Samuel approached the county commission regarding two ballfields in Racine used by the Little League. Samuel said the fields drainage, bleachers and dugouts, among other things were in need of repair. The commission agreed to continue to pay the power bills and gave the Little League permission to make any needed changes and repairs to the fields, bleachers, dugouts and other areas.