Altman Avenue property to be cleaned up

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners Thursday decided to notify the bank owner of 1008 Altman Ave. that the property must be under contract to be cleaned within 30 days or the county will do it and place a lien on the land to recoup the costs.

The partially-constructed, abandoned structure on Altman Avenue has been the source of complaints for several years and was finally brought before the commissioners after the Wood County Abandoned and Dilapidated Building Committee reviewed it. During an earlier meeting on the property a number of neighbors appeared before the commission. The neighbors said there are insects, and rodents on the property posing a health hazard. The county engineer said the structure that remains is unsafe.

John Reed, county director of building permits and compliance officer, told the commissioners they had two options.

“You can either give them 30-day notice to get the property under contract for cleanup, or the county can go ahead and demolish the structure,” Reed said.

The hearing on the property was on Monday’s commission agenda, but the address listed was actually for the current property owner, Premier Bank in Ravenswood. Prosecutor Jason Wharton advised the commissioners at that time, since the actual address for the property was not listed, the commission could discuss the matter, but could not take any action. The commissioners decided to allow comments and discuss the matter but tabled any action until their next meeting which was Thursday.

Commissioners Steve Gainer and Blair Couch voted to give the bank 30 days then if it does not comply, they authorized Reed to proceed to condemn the property, seek bids for demolition and have a lien placed on the property to recoup whatever costs the county might incur. Commission President Wayne Dunn did not attend Thursday’s meeting.

“The first references to this property appear in the files as of August 2011. At that time I contacted the bank which owned the property and I was advised there was a buyer for the property so we closed the file for awhile, but nothing happened with it,” Reed earlier told commissioners.

According to the files, construction on the house began in 2010. The partial structure has been exposed since that time. Reed earlier reported there is mold on the subflooring making it unsafe, and county officials said the foundation is eroded, exposed wood has been laying around on the property for the past three years, and neighbors reported there are drainage problems with water flowing onto other properties. County Engineer Bill Brown said it needed regraded.

No one representing the bank attended the earlier meeting or the Thursday meeting on the property.

Under the county Abandoned/Dilapidated Building ordinance, safety and health complaints regarding rural properties are forwarded to enforcement officers and the county engineer who investigate and report their findings to the committee. The committee can recommend the case be brought before the county commission.

Once the case is before commissioners, property owners are notified in writing and the property owner can request a hearing. If the owner fails to comply with cleanup requests, commissioners can seek bids for repairs, demolition, removal and cleanup. A lien can be placed against the property so the county can recoup the cost of cleanup.