Brooke discusses dilapidated structures

WELLSBURG – Brooke County Commissioners said Tuesday they hope state legislators will pass a law that gives them more teeth against dilapidated structures.

Former Brooke County Sheriff Rich Ferguson asked the commission to “beef up” a county ordinance against such structures.

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

The county then may condemn the house or building and place a lien on the property so if it’s sold, funds from the sale may be used to reimburse the demolition costs.

But the commission has lacked funds to pay for such demolitions up front, though the sheriff’s department secured a $15,000 state grant used to remove or clean up several trailers.

Current Sheriff Chuck Jackson said a common problem is property owners who are out of the area and not concerned about their buildings’ condition.

Commission President Tim Ennis said the commission isn’t targeting financially struggling residents having difficulty keeping up with the maintenance of their homes.

“But I think we all have a place in our minds we’d like to see addressed,” he said.

Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said dilapidated structures are a major concern for him and he’s asked Norm Schwertfeger, vice chairman of the county’s economic development authority, to look into what may be done.

Schwertfeger presented to the commission a list of fines imposed on owners of vacant buildings by various cities, including Wheeling.

In other business:

Ferguson said letters are being sent to residents of unincorporated areas of the county reminding them they may be fined $500 if they fail to post their newly issued citystyle address numbers.

The move is intended to help postal carriers and police, fire and ambulance departments to find homes they are dispatched to.

Ferguson, who was hired recently to assist with the addressing efforts on a part-time, temporary basis, said he and Cheryl Dick, the effort’s coordinator, have received a number of orders for numbered signs using the equipment and materials used to post street signs for many roads in the county.

He said signs of specific colors are available for municipalities also. For example, Follansbee residents may purchase signs of blue and white, Follansbee Middle School’s school colors.

Ferguson said while municipalities aren’t required to follow the ordinance, it would be to their benefit. He hopes to encourage participation there by arranging for local sports leagues to sell them and retain a portion of the money.

Currently the signs are available for $25 each by calling (304) 737-3660, extension 104.

Anthony “Butch” Rotellini of Cross Creek told the commission Pnobscot Road in Avella has been closed by Pennsylvania officials and questioned the status of a section of the road that lies in Brooke County.

Rotellini said the unpaved road is used by family with property there and by others as a shortcut to Meadowcroft Village. The commissioners said they would contact the state Division of Highways about the segment in Brooke County.

Les McGowan, chairman of the county’s building commission, said there are two vacant seats on the board, which assists the commission in pursuing building projects and the funds needed for them.

It meets at 5 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month at the county courthouse. Letters of interest should be submitted to the county clerk’s office there.

The commission learned Tim Robertson, a former Follansbee police officer, has joined the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department, and Jim Smith is retiring after 20 years as assistant maintenance superintendent at the county courthouse.

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