Kingwood Council tells owner to fix property or we’ll condemn it

KINGWOOD — Kingwood Council is putting a property owner on notice to make a property safe or face condemnation procedures.

The stone building at the intersection of W.Va. 7 and Price Street in downtown Kingwood was bought at auction for $34,000 in 2016 by B&L Properties LLC, of Charleston.

Built in 1914, it was originally known as the Herring Building. The structure housed Schwab Pharmacy, Western Auto, a bowling alley and other businesses over the years. It is currently empty except for a medical supply business.

For more than a year, the Main Street side of the structure has been fenced off because of falling stones. The mayor said council has been communicating with the owners since October, in an attempt to get the building made safe enough to remove the fence.

Businessman P.J. Crogan asked council to act earlier this year, saying the blocked sidewalk hurts his business. Mayor Jean Guillot said the owners said they can’t find someone to repair the building in a historically accurate way at an affordable price. Earlier this month council sent the names of contractors to the company.

“It’s the same old spiel,” Guillot said of the latest letter from Lovonza Hairston of B&L, dated Aug. 17.

Councilman Josh Fields asked what is a reasonable amount of time to allow the owners to contact the contractors?

Ultimately council decided to give the owners until Sept. 28, “to have a feasible working plan in place,” or the city will begin condemnation procedures. “All we want is so that it’s safe,” Guillot said “We want to get it so we can pull the fencing and all that old wiring out so people can safely use the walkway.”

Council is in the process of removing another building downtown, at 146 S. Price St., which the owner donated to the town after it pursued repair or demolition of the structure.

Recorder Bill Robertson said attorney Virginia Hopkins is preparing agreements with the adjacent property owners so demolition can begin.

“Safety is our main concern with this building,” Robertson said.

In other action at this week’s meeting, council:

Tabled a request from the Sewer Board, which asked council to pay the board’s attorney to rewrite the sewer ordinance. The board’s attorney recommended redoing the ordinance, even though the State Public Service Commission approved it, because some deadlines were missed in filing the ordinance with the state.

Council does not currently have an attorney and decided to wait until it does.

Appointed Rosemary Bernatowicz to another five-year term on the Kingwood Library Board.

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