Advertisement

Berkeley County's Safe & Clean Agency presented with more than 50 cases of unsafe, unsightly properties

March 02, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • on Friday. The owner of this Mall Drive mobile home park in Martinsburg was ordered by Berkeley County officials to remove a condemned trailer and excessive trash, vegetation and address other building and property code concerns within the next 30 or 60 days.
By Matthew Umstead

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — More than 50 cases of unsightly, if not also unsafe, properties have been presented to Berkeley County’s Safe & Clean Agency for mediation since it was formed in 2010.

“It’s a never-ending cycle,” said Donna Seiler, who, as a litter control officer and code enforcement official for the county, has fielded hundreds of complaints about excessive debris and condemned structures.

The latest case to trigger action by Berkeley County Council on Thursday involves a mobile home park near Martinsburg Mall at the west end of Mall Drive.

One of 10 mobile homes on the 1.28-acre parcel was condemned in 2009, and the property as a whole has been littered with excessive amounts of trash and debris, Seiler said.

“We want that (mobile home) removed in 30 days,” Seiler said when asked about the council’s actions Thursday concerning the property.

The county also gave the mobile home park property’s owner 60 days to remove trash debris and to have structures inspected by the county’s engineering department to ensure it is code compliant. The owner also must be in compliance with county health department’s regulations.

If the owner fails to comply, the council ordered that the individual be fined $100 per day until the property complies with the county’s ordinance for litter control and safe structures. If noncompliance continues, the property ultimately could be sold to recover costs the county incurs to clean it up, according to the county’s ordinance for litter and unsafe structures, which was put into effect in October 2010.

The mobile home park falls under the county’s jurisdiction because the parcel, unlike those that surround it, has not been annexed by the city of Martinsburg, Seiler said. The city of Martinsburg has its own code enforcement staff.

Seiler said the mobile home park property’s owner has been treated like every other person with whom she has talked about property maintenance concerns.

“We’re going to work with everybody, first and foremost,” Seiler said.

As a general rule, Seiler said she is willing to work with property owners if they show some effort to address excessive trash and other violations.

“It’s the ones that ignore us ...” Seiler said.

Since the county’s Safe & Clean Agency was formed in the fall of 2010, Seiler said she has found that many of the problem properties are owned by out-of-state residents or were owned by people who recently died or moved into an assisted-living facility.

The economic downtown and foreclosures that have resulted also have been linked to a number of instances of property disrepair and neglect.

At Morning Dove subdivision in southern Berkeley County, the roof of a model home that was damaged in a storm has been covered by a tarp for two years, Seiler said.

In another case, a Georgia resident told county officials that his brother was to take care of the property in his absence and was surprised to learn about the conditions.

“He had no idea how bad it was,” Seiler said.

Altogether, Seiler said 57 cases have been presented to the Safe & Clean Agency’s board.

Berkeley County residents who have concerns about excessive amounts of trash, litter or unsafe structures in their community may call the Berkeley County Planning Department at 304-264-1963.

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|