A new state law has gone into effect that may give the City of Weston more power to deal with neglected properties that are deemed to represent a serious public safety hazard.
Under the new law county building inspector, Bryan Reed will have the power to seek search warrants in order to determine whether a property represents a “substantial risk of fire, building collapse or any other threat to life and safety.”
If the property is deemed a safety hazard it can then be demolished without the owners permission and without a circuit court order.
Prior to the new law going into effect, the city would have been required to get a circuit court order in order to move forward with demolition without the property owners consent.
According to a statement by Mayor Julia Spelsberg, the City of Weston has been making moves in recent years to combat the growing problem of neglected and dilapidated properties including the creation of the Better Buildings Committee.
The committee, which is made up of volunteers have conducted two city-wide surveys to catalogue vacant and dilapidated properties, the current number of which stands at 115.
In addition to the efforts of the Better Buildings Committee, Spelsberg has also managed to obtain $20,000 in technical assistance grants from the West Virginia Brownfields group in Morgantown.Technical assistance grants are earmarked for specific purposes such as technical and legal assistance.
“We have been so fortunate to have the expertise of WVU’s Law School and the Brownfields group to help us in our efforts,” Spelsberg said in a statement.
”We could never have done the work without our great volunteers who have given their time and energy in attacking the dilapidated buildings issues,” she added. “It is something that is a problem for many towns and cities and the State of WV is trying to help all of us with their current legislation.”