The White Sulphur Springs City Council held their regular monthly meeting on Oct. 10 at City Hall.
Agenda items included approving $1,000 in funding for Falcon Football, hearing updates from Main Street White Sulphur Springs, and approving ordinance WVC 8-12-16, which regulates the repair, closing, demolition, etc. of dwellings or buildings unfit for human habitation within the municipality.
White Sulphur Springs City Attorney Fred Giggenbach explained the pros and cons between WVC 8-12-16 and what is known as an “international property maintenance code.” The maintenance code, which Giggenbach described as “overly burdensome,” is a model code that regulates the minimum maintenance standards for basic equipment, lighting, ventilation, heating, sanitation, and fire safety.
He recommended the city instead approve the WVC 8-12-16 ordinance, which is a state code that gives cities the tools to give the mayor and city council more authority when dealing with buildings that are no longer livable. Under WVC 8-12-16, the city can file a lien against properties for the costs of repairing, altering, improving, vacating and closing, removing, or demolishing any dwelling or building, as well as institute a civil action in court against landowners for all costs incurred by the municipality when dealing with the properties.
The properties that would be on the line for this sort of treatment include abandoned structures within town, such as one that burned several years ago and has remained in an unlivable state since then, and other potentially dangerous or hazardous properties that the city would otherwise be unable to deal with. The buildings as described by the ordinance are, “Any dwellings or other buildings unfit for human habitation due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazard of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities or any other conditions prevailing in any dwelling or building, whether used for human habituation or not, which would cause such dwellings or other buildings to be unsafe, unsanitary, dangerous or detrimental to the public safety or welfare.”
According to Giggenbach, an enforcement agency would be created, which would include the mayor, a municipal engineer, and one member at large, as well as a heath officer and fire chief to serve as ex officio members. This agency would act as a commission and can issue orders and summons through due process regarding applicable properties. If the property owner chooses to take no action during the due process, the city would be able to step in to deal with the structures accordingly.
In other news, Pat Harper with the Main Street Revitalization Committee gave a report of current events with the group. The group was able to hold their first meeting in Brad Paisley Community Park last month, and has already started planning ahead for 2018.
Plans continue for a winter farmers market and for the next Summer Music Series, which will start up once again next year. The Holiday Open House planning is well underway as well, with a parade scheduled for Dec. 2, along with a full day of activities featuring carriage rides through town.
Mayor Bruce Bowling commented that, “I think what you’re doing to Main Street is phenomenal, you guys are really an asset to the community, and I think I speak for everyone here when I say we are behind you guys 100 percent.”
The council is also working on plans to connect Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs’ water lines at Caldwell. This would be used in case of a water emergency, and paid for by grant money to make a regional water system. The project is currently pending funding.