Bath residents unhappy about council's decision on alley

June 02, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.VA. -- Bath resident Doug Waugh of Ewing Street was upset by the Bath Town Council's decision not to abandon an alley that adjoins his property and that of his neighbor.

At Tuesday's council meeting, Waugh said he and Cory Belton were disappointed that the decision was not discussed with them.

"We would have come to the last meeting," he said.

He said their attorney, Charles Trump, did not know anything about it.

Waugh said he and Belton maintain the property and it is to be used as a bird sanctuary.

Councilman Jim Slough said the council "voted not to give town property away."

When a resident seeks to acquire a piece of town-owned property, such as streets or alleyways, the town cannot sell the property under state law. It must be abandoned, Councilman Jim Slough said.

The town is under no obligation to abandon a piece of property when a resident requests to acquire it, he said.


Councilman and Finance Chairman David Crosby, who participated in the meeting by telephone, said other options need to be probed before future abandonments are made. He asked Mayor Susan Webster to request that the West Virginia Municipal League find out if property owners could be charged a fee for use of the abandoned property.

Crosby assured Waugh that "the matter is not closed. If property that belongs to the town is abandoned, we need to find out what our options are and to do the best for our citizens," he said.

"We need to come up with a process," Webster said.

Councilman Ryan Rebant said Wednesday that the council voted not to abandon the alley, which covers two-thirds of an acre, at the May 18 morning meeting. With the ordinance committee's recommendation, the council did not plan to pursue the abandonment and the town has no plans for the alley.

Rebant said Trump met with the council earlier this year and requested the property be abandoned to his clients.

In March, resident Andrew Goseline asked the council to abandon one-eighth of an acre at the end of Union and Mercer streets, which could be used for parking next to a building he was renovating for a business.

Crosby said it would bring in more business to the town and wanted to investigate it more. The property is next to Warm Springs Run and needed a guardrail, he said, adding that it was a liability to the town.

Rebant said the council voted to abandon the property to Goseline after learning the property was appraised at about $5,000.

"The pros outweighed the cons," he said.

Crosby said Tuesday that state law will not allow town-owned property to be sold, but by giving it to Goseline, "it will increase the tax base on Mercer Street."

He said commercial property will help businesses in town.

"Mr. Goseline has been very good to the town," Crosby said.

"We are good citizens, too," Waugh said.

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