Boarded up buildings under fire

February 04, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Charles Town officials want to start cracking down on property owners with unfinished, boarded up buildings in town.

At Monday night's council meeting, the mayor and council members were briefed by a zoning consultant and part-time building inspector on ways to start stricter enforcement of building code violations.

"We have people come to us and they're frustrated," said Charles Town Mayor J. Randolph Hilton.

Hilton said unfinished and abandoned buildings can be found throughout town.

Council member Geraldine Willingham said she knows of one building that has been boarded up for 30 years.

Building inspector John Dick, chief building inspector in Martinsburg, W.Va., and a contract building inspector for Charles Town, said that steps can be taken, including demolition of the buildings, if work is not done on unfinished projects.


Hilton said the town does not want to demolish buildings.

"We just want them fixed up," he said.

Annette G. van Hilst, a zoning consultant for Charles Town, said that sending letters to property owners with code violations will frequently lead to work being done without further steps being necessary.

"Very often you'll discover owners will start fixing up properties," she said.

Other enforcement efforts could be done, but Charles Town would need a full-time building inspector, she said.

Hilton said that the town officials want to start working on the problem so it is not just passed on to future elected officials.

Hilton also said work needs done to get sidewalks into repair by property owners.

"Charles Town is somewhat a city of walkers," he said.

Dick said a building inspector can notify property owners that they must fix their sidewalks if they are in disrepair.

The town needs an ordinance where fines can be levied against property owners who do not repair their sidewalks, officials said.

Van Hilst said she will get a copy of what other towns' have done with their sidewalk ordinances to show Charles Town officials.

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