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Berkeley Co. Council plans to take action on four properties

Among them is a Martinsburg modular home condemned last year after 94 dogs were seized from it

September 22, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • The Berkeley County Council on Thursday authorized that action be taken against the owners of this Martinsburg modular home condemned last year after 94 dogs were seized there in an animal-cruelty investigation. Wesley Helsley Sr. and Melissa Helsley-Hall of Hagerstown, who own the property at 1206 S. Raleigh St., were cited last year for violating the county's Safe and Clean County ordinance, according to county officials.
Herald-Mail file photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Berkeley County Council on Thursday authorized that action be taken against the owners of a Martinsburg modular home condemned last year after 94 dogs were seized there in an animal-cruelty investigation.

Wesley Helsley Sr. and Melissa Helsley-Hall of Hagerstown, who own the property at 1206 S. Raleigh St., were cited last year for violating the county's Safe and Clean County ordinance, according to county officials.

The council's vote formally ordering the owners to comply with the ordinance advances the case closer to court action and the potential sale of the property by the county to recoup the cost incurred to clean it up, under the ordinance.

Three other property owners, who also were cited for violating the ordinance, will receive similar orders from the council. They are:

  • Mohsen Sadeghzadeh of Bunker Hill, W.Va., for Lot 5 on Pilgrim Street in Inwood, W.Va.
  • George and Kery Fries of Charles Town, W.Va., for property at 203 Raccoon Trail in the Glenwood Forest subdivision.
  • U.S. Liens LLC of Gambrills, Md. for property at Lot E, Parcel 3, on Warrior Drive.

At the former location of YipYipDog Kennels LLC on Raleigh Street, the back door of the small modular home is gone, the floors are rotted, windows either are broken or open and feces remain on the property, Donna Seiler, the county's litter control and code enforcement officer, told council members Thursday.

"The smell is very bad," Seiler said.

Leonard Woods Jr., the former owner of the kennel, was ordered to pay nearly $3,000 in restitution last month for the care of the dogs that were seized in August 2010. Woods pleaded guilty April 25 to 20 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

At that time, authorities found some areas of the home to be urine-saturated and littered with feces, and some of the dogs appeared to have skin, eye and hair-loss conditions, according to court documents.

Seiler told council members that the Pilgrim Street property was vacant and dilapidated, but children were using it as a playground.

A fire burned the property in the Glenwood Forest subdivision eight to 10 years ago, and the roof is collapsed, Seiler said.

With small children living in the immediate vicinity, Seiler said their welfare is a particular concern.

"We see danger, they see fort (to play in)," Seiler said.

At the Warrior Drive property, Seiler said two mobile homes have become a "drop-off" site, and roofing shingles recently were discarded there.

Neighboring property owners are concerned about the vacant structure's impact on their property values, Seiler said.

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