DUNBAR, WV (WOWK) – Following complaints of abandoned homes in the city of Dunbar, a new bill is being proposed to hopefully discourage this trend.

Friday afternoon, a home along West Virginia Avenue in Dunbar quickly went up in flames. Neighbors said the home has been vacant for close to two years, but they’ve recently noticed people “squatting” there.

Dunbar city council members say they’re well aware of this issue.

“We’ve got our share of backpackers that are getting into them and that’s probably what’s happened here. I wouldn’t say that for sure, but most likely,” remarked Greg Wolfe, Dunbar Third Ward Councilman.

Dunbar Third Ward Councilman and City Code Enforcement Officer Greg Wolfe says they’re working to address this problem.

An ordinance added to Monday’s agenda states that – if passed – the city could enforce harsher penalties for homeowners who abandon properties, leading them to be classified as a “nuisance.”

“We will issue a letter within thirty days to the owner and the tenant stating that this house has been deemed a nuisance and if the police are called back, it could possibly be a thousand dollar fine,” says Wolfe.

Neighbors and other city officials say they started noticing the crackdown on vacant homes after current Mayor Scott Elliott was elected in 2021. Many in the area say they believe this step could be the solution to a growing problem.