By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian
Progress is being made in Mannington as city officials are aggressively enforcing building codes.
Anthony Horton, code enforcer for Mannington, said there are about 80 deteriorated structures in the city limits.
During a council meeting last month, Horton told council that several residents who were told to clean up their properties have done so. He said one of the most common building-code violations is basic property maintenence such as landscaping.
“Some of them deal with overgrowth; others deal with lack of maintenance,” Horton said.
Horton said about 98 percent of properties that were cited for property maintenance have been acted on and cleaned.
“Getting people to cut their grass and clean up their properties, we can get that done,” he said.
One of the hardest things Horton and the city have had to deal with is finding correct property owners. He said it’s hard to locate them and get them to clean up their property.
“Some of them move out of state, and it’s hard to keep them accountable for upkeep of their properties,” Horton said. “Some people just walk away from their houses and never do anything with it.”
Because the violation is a misdemeanor offense, it’s hard to get people to come back to Mannington and clean up their buildings.
“It’s not a felony; it’s nothing that we can extradite them back to West Virginia,” Horton said.
Horton said unless the city has funding to take care of these types of buildings, they will look the way they are.
“You have to have funding to do demolition,” he said. “That’s the only way you can get around it, budgeting money for demolition. If you don’t have any money budgeted or have a demolition plan, these issues won’t get addressed.”
Mayor Jim Taylor said the city has been taking care of its own abandoned buildings. One of those buildings was the old Duncan Building along Buffalo Street.
“We started demolition on it on Nov. 4, and it’s to be completed by Nov. 14,” he said. “I think they’re ahead of schedule.”
Taylor said there are other properties that the city owns that are being worked on along with the Duncan Building. He said it may take some time to have these properties cleaned up.
“It’s going to take time and resources, especially financial resources,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he is glad to see residents taking responsibility and cleaning up their properties. He said the city hopes when others see residents and the city cleaning up properties and buildings, the act will catch on.
“Once people see we’re taking on our responsibilities, we hope the citizens of Mannington will take responsibility for their own property,” he said.
Email Emily Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.