WEIRTON - One city neighborhood has been experiencing some problems with a local property and that ward's councilman is seeking to take action through legislation.
During today's Weirton City Council meeting, Ward 6 Councilman David Dalrymple will be asking his fellow councilmen to support an amendment he said will help strengthen the 2009 Distruptive Activities Ordinance after neighbors spoke out about a repeat problem with a property on School Street.
Neighbors turned to city officials about three weeks ago to bring a situation to light about a property at 132 School St. they said had some serious issues pertaining to the city's code.
Dalrymple said when he learned of the problem with the property he alerted code enforcement to investigate where officials found multiple violations. He said letters were drafted and sent pointing out these problems and shortly afterwards repair, clean up and pest treatment of the property commenced.
Within days, surrounding neighbors' homes began to be infested with cockroaches that has now spread to 11 homes in the vicinity of the property in question, according to Dalrymple.
"I have had multiple complaints about this address over the course of the last year or so, and each time I contacted code enforcement, who would then investigate the situation and rectify the problem by either a verbal warning or an official written notice of violation," he said. "I have been involved with some of the residents to try and help guide them to a solution to their problems."
Dalrymple said he has been working closely with Code Enforcement to make sure the property is cleaned up and brought within the standards of city code.
In an attempt to find a solution, several meetings between city officials and neighbors have taken place. During those meetings, according to Dalrymple, residents asked what could be done to help keep this type of situation from occurring again.
"I have always been looking for new ways to help keep the city cleaned up by holding those who choose not to do so responsible within the confines of our ability to legislate," he said.
While working on the problem, Dalrymple said he looked back to the Disruptive Activity Ordinance No. 509.14, passed in 2009 to see if it could be used as it was meant to be; as a deterrent of repeat violations.
When written, it was decided that when a person or entity has been involved in a disruptive activity resulting in the mobilization or investigation by city officials that result in a written citation on three or more separate occasions within a 60-day period, the city manager may declare the activity to be a disruptive activity and proceed with notice and enforcement that could include fines that progress on each occasion.
This will remain in effect until law enforcement and other government personnel are not called upon to respond to any disruptive activities for a period of 12 consecutive months, then the activity will no longer be classified as a disruptive activity.
Dalrymple said many of the call outs that the enforcement divisions respond to in the city result in official letters pointing out what violations have occurred when it pertains to code enforcement that can be backed up by Hancock County 911 calls, but do not generate written citations. He said all these reports indicate where the problems are occurring in the city, but, unfortunately when it comes to the language in the ordinance, he said, city officials cannot enact it as an enforcement tool due to the fact that no written citation was handed out in many of the occasions.
Studying the ordinance and taking into consideration what had occurred on School Street, Dalrymple got in touch with the city attorney to ask if it would be possible to add language to the ordinance that would actually let it be used as it was intended when conceived by amending it to read that the three separate occasions could also be generated by an official written notice of violation or a written citation.
"I hear it all the time how the people who play the system habitually are getting over on us and making a mockery of the system," he said.
"If this amendment passes, I feel it would punish the habitual abusers who continually tax the resources of our city departments by repeatedly violating city ordinances, doing so in such a manner as to abuse how our ordinances are set up to protect those who are not habitual violators."
He said the revisions to the ordinance do not help matters when it comes to the current School Street incident or many other problems that have occurred in the city on various levels of enforcement. However, he said this amendment will "put some teeth into a good piece of legislation to assist our enforcement arms to be able to, once and for all, deter the abuse of the city's resources by a person or entity who tries to habitually take advantage of how our laws are written" as the city moves forward.
In other business, city council will discuss budget revisions, possible tree removal and vehicle repair as well as taking the next steps moving forward on the upcoming sewer project.
Weirton city council will meet today on the second floor of the city building at 7:30 p.m.
(Dickson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)