Dilapidated structure ordinance discussed

WELLSBURG -The Brooke County Commission next week will consider an amendment to its dilapidated structure ordinance aimed at making the cost of enforcement more affordable for the county.

Commission President Tim Ennis announced a public hearing will be held at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, prior to its next regular meeting, for the amendment, which involves changing the dilapidated structure enforcement agency to include a certified contractor instead of a licensed engineer.

Ennis said the cost to employ an engineer on the board and the availability of interested engineers led to the decision to amend the ordinance.

Adopted by the commission several years ago, the ordinance also calls for a representative of the county health department, local fire chief and two residents to serve on the board, with the county’s sheriff serving as a non-voting member.

The fire chief will serve a three-year term, while the residents each will serve a two-year term.

The ordinance allows a resident to file a complaint, through the office of County Clerk Sylvia Benzo, of a structure or property he or she believes to be unsafe, unsanitary, dangerous or otherwise detrimental to the public health or welfare.

In addition to dilapidated structures, the ordinance addresses accumulation of refuse or debris, overgrown vegetation or a toxic spill.

Following an investigation by the certified contractor, the board may order for the structure’s owner to correct the situation within 30 days.

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.

In other business:

Ruby Greathouse, president of the Brooke County Pioneer Trail Association, told the commission she shared some concerns about a pipeline extending across the trail with a contractor involved and feels satisfied they will cooperate.

Greathouse said a contractor working with MarkWest has extended a pipeline across a section of the trail to draw water from the Ohio River for hydraulic fracturing. Because the temporary line is above ground, crews have covered it with a board and posted a sign alerting trail users of the bump.

Greathouse said she told the contractor the trail also is used by emergency crews when state Route 2 above the trail is closed for rock slides, and the contractor appeared to understand the situation.

Ennis confirmed the commission received about $2,000 from MarkWest for the easement required for the crews to cross the trail. He said the money went to the county’s general fund.

Benzo said the first day of early voting in the special election to consider renewal of Brooke County Schools’ five-year operating levy will be Oct. 26.

Benzo said she was concerned initially because the first day falls on a Saturday, which is unusual for an early voting period. But she said voters not able to make the polls on Nov. 9 will be able to cast their ballots at the courthouse from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on that date, Monday through Friday up to Nov. 6 and on Nov. 2, which also is a Saturday.

Monday is the last day for voters to register at the courthouse.

The levy is expected to generate $6.1 million annually or $30.9 million over five years for various expenses involved in operating the school district.

The commissioners praised law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance crews and the county’s emergency management agency for their response to a natural gas explosion Friday on Eldersville Road.

They also reflected on the Mozingo family’s loss of their daughter and home.

“This is truly a tragic event. Brooke County will rally around this family and the other families up there (affected by the explosion) I’m sure,” Ennis said.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)