Latest News, Morgantown Council

City looking to amend housing code relating to inspection of rental units

MORGANTOWN — The change to Article 1751 of Morgantown’s housing code is, by and large, a housekeeping measure designed to bring city, state and national laws in line.

The article deals with the inspection of rental units. It was initially adopted in response to a fire in 1977 that resulted in the deaths of three college students. 

Development Services Director Rickie Yeager  said the tragic event resulted in housing inspections starting in 1979 as well as enforcement of the state fire code for structures the city previously considered “grandfathered.”  

“The code is used to compel compliance with all applicable fire and building codes for all rental housing units. All rental housing is required to be registered with the city or Morgantown Code Enforcement Division and is subject to inspection every three years in accordance with state fire code,” Yeager has said. 

The amendment, which recently received first reading approval, is designed to clarify definitions and timelines and detail exactly how inspections are carried out. In general, Yeager said, it will make the article less ambiguous and more in-step with state law.

It will also move to address issues related to absentee landlords by requiring an in-state representative whom code enforcement can contact to provide notice.   

Morgantown Fire Marshal Ken Tennant said the city has been progressive in its handling of such properties.

“The national codes adopted by the state of West Virginia have, for the first time in the 100-year history of the fire code, put in inspection frequencies. And guess what, they’re exactly what we’ve been doing for 14 years,” Tennant said during the August committee of the whole session.

In other city news, a cable franchise agreement between Atlantic Broadband and the city of Morgantown will go up for final approval on Sept. 21. The cable provider is looking for a 10-year agreement to provide a fiber network through which cable and high-speed Internet can be delivered. 

If approved, Atlantic Broadband would join Comcast, which entered into a 15-year agreement with the city in 2007.  

Representatives of Atlantic Broadband will be on hand for council’s Sept. 21 meeting.

Lastly, resolutions continuing the funding of school resource officers at Morgantown High and South Middle have been approved, as have resolutions providing prevention resource officers for Mountaineer and Suncrest middle schools.  

The board of education will cover two-thirds of the cost for the MHS and South Middle officers with the city covering the remainder, either out of its coffers or through grant funding. For the Mountaineer and Suncrest officers,  $22,000 will be provided by the BOE.

“The only distinction is prevention resource officers are grant-funded with a lump sum of $22,000 and school resource officers are funded by the school board with a two-thirds reimbursement,” Attorney Ryan Simonton said. “My understanding is they perform the same services.”

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