Berkeley County Council allocates more than $30,000 for demolition of dilapidated structures

December 09, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Berkeley County Council voted 4-1 this week  to allocate a little more than $30,000 for the demolition of dilapidated structures on two properties targeted for cleanup.

Council member Anthony J. "Tony" Petrucci voted against the allocation Thursday.

The vote allows the county to proceed with finalizing contracts with Pittsnogle LLC of Martinsburg and Steve's General Hauling of Hedgesville, W.Va., for the demolition work, according to county legal counsel Norwood Bentley III.

The firms were awarded the contracts in September. Pittsnogle submitted a bid of $13,000 to clean up a property along Misty Drive in Whitings Neck in northern Berkeley County, while Steve's General Hauling bid $12,550 to handle a site along Mish Road in the Bunker Hill, W.Va., area in the county's south end.

The council also agreed to allocate $3,000 in contingency funding for each cleanup project. Bentley also recommended that a fund be established for future demolition projects.

Bentley told council members that the county intends to place liens on the properties to recoup the money being spent for the cleanup.

Combined, the properties have an appraised value of more than $110,000, county officials said.

Bentley advised the county to try to sell the properties at market value, but at least recoup what the county spends cleaning up the land.

Complicating the county's action to clean up the Whitings Neck property was the owner's failure to pay his taxes on the land, Bentley said.

The property wasn't sold when the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office attempted to sell it to collect more than $900 in unpaid taxes, according to county officials.  

Given the involvement of the state because of the unpaid taxes, Petrucci said he was concerned about proceeding with the demolition.

Bentley said the county should expect to get their money back "eventually."

The demolitions are a first for the county since it adopted an ordinance to compel property owners to repair or demolish blighted and dilapidated structures and address litter concerns.

If property owners fail to safety and health concerns, the county has the authority to ultimately sell the land targeted by the Berkeley County Safe and Clean County Enforcement Agency to recoup the expense of cleaning them up.

The Mish Road property was previously described as a "hazard to the fullest extent" by Donna Seiler, a code enforcement/litter control officer, who has noted that a dwelling there has been set on fire twice.

  The roof of the dwelling on the Whitings Neck property has collapsed and has also been deemed to be a hazard, according to county records.

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