DUNBAR, WV (WOWK) — On Monday, Dunbar’s City Council is set to consider a proposal that could make it easier to tear down dilapidated buildings.
The amendment would give the city council the ability to order the demolition of a structure, deemed a, “threat to public safety”.
Dunbar’s Building Inspector Hugh Leishman says the proposal is to amend the city’s ordinance to set a time limit for when the property owner will renovate or demolish a building if Leishman or the fire chief determines that the structure is a safety hazard to the public.
“We are going to say, ‘look, this house is totaled or abandoned and not repairable and I’ll give you a timeline on demolition and if you don’t want to do it, we’ll advertise it or do it ourselves.'” Leishman says. “Then, we’ll bill you for it.”
He says the proposed amendment would give property owners an opportunity to come before the city council and explain the situation from their perspective.
Leishman says the homes in question are often part of a tax sale or foreclosure process. He said in many instances homeless individuals are going into those homes without permission.
“In the past three years, I think we’ve had five fires that have been started by transients in abandoned houses that have no utilities that you know it is not an electrical fire,” he said.
The proposed changes would make it easier to address a problem that is causing concern for neighbors throughout Dunbar.
“They get run down and the owners don’t want to keep them up,” said Ruby Garland who lives near one of those problem properties.
Some homeowners are optimistic about the opportunity to clean up their community.
“There was one down at the corner by the alley. People just started going in there. It was locked and they are still going in there because we seen the door open,” said Rose Thell, who also lives near one of the properties that are causing concern.
If council members approve the amendment the second reading will be at the next scheduled council meeting.