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Preston County Cleanup Committee considers dilapidated building ordinance

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Cleanup Committee is considering adopting a new dilapidated building ordinance.

Committee members met Wednesday with attorney Bill Means, who expressed his opinions about the proposed ordinance.

“First, I am here as a citizen of Preston County and not to give legal advice,” Means said. “I stopped and told Mel (Prosecuting Attorney Melvin C. Snyder III) I was going to be here as a citizen, not legal, to give my opinion of the ordinance.”

The ordinance the committee is considering is one Means said was either proposed or adopted by Marshall County.

He said if the county adopts the ordinance, it will give it the ability to pick or choose the regulations they want to enforce.

“If you don’t include vegetation then you can’t go there,” Means said.

“I tell people we can’t regulate ugly,” V.J. Davis, director of the Preston County Health Department, said. He said if a building doesn’t pose a health or safety hazard the committee can’t do anything about it.

Committee members also discussed the problems local towns are having with dilapidated buildings.

“We can’t touch a house in a municipality,” County Litter Control Officer Jay Sowers said.

The committee currently chooses to let towns take care of dilapidated buildings with their ordinances, rather than stepping in.

Means said the county commission has authority to make its dilapidated building ordinance applicable throughout the county. “I wouldn’t supplement your current ordinance,” Means said. “I would repeal it and adopt a new one.”

“Some towns want us to come in now,” Sowers said.

Davis said the towns don’t have the money to take care of dilapidated buildings.

“I believe this ordinance should cover all of Preston County. It will give us the discretion to step in on a case by case basis,” he said.

“When we see this building falling down we want it cleaned up. We have health and safety concerns but we have to protect property values, too,” said Dave Price, who represents the Preston County Commission on the committee.

The committee agreed Price and Davis will review the Marshall County ordinance and make changes to fit the needs of Preston County. It will then be reviewed by County Administrator Shannon Wolfe before being sent to Snyder.

The ordinance will then be reviewed for changes and additions by the full committee at its Nov. 20 meeting. Once the committee is satisfied with the ordinance it will be presented to the Preston County Commission.

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