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New Martinsville Seriously Eyes Property Issues

By Staff | Nov 12, 2014

Building Inspector Joe Hanna gave New Martinsville council a report on various property issues in the town during the Oct. 6 council meeting. He noted Wal-Mart is going to be putting in another fueling station, pretty much in the same location where one was located before.

Also, he noted construction of the Holiday Inn Express at the Riverview Plaza is on schedule. However, he said they have slightly reduced the number of rooms to 79, to allow for some larger suites, etc.

Contrary to some rumors, Hanna said the job was never shut down for any reason. However, OSHA did levy a small fine on the job as a roofing crew was caught without roping off their harnesses.

As for the Valley Towing building that was severely damaged by high winds on July 27, Hanna said the owner had an engineer look at it and decided the cost of repairs were too high. “So that building will be coming down,” he noted, projecting a Nov. 1 start.

The building is not owned by Valley Towing, who has since relocated.

Also under the auspices of Hanna, he noted CSX wants to put another rail spur in the Brooklyn yard on the eastern side of the tracks to stack cars so they will not have as many cars on the tracks, blocking traffic. The potential problem is they would need many cubic tons of fill for the project-which is in the established flood plain. “They need to show a zero rise, zero impact, but they did it,” said Hanna. An engineered study shows, said Hanna, “it will not have any effect on any of the residents down there when they have a flood.”

Hanna said he noticed the condemned former Thomas Drug building on North Street has a “for sale” sign on it that includes a phone number. “It’s not supposed to happen,” said Hanna of a sale after a correction order has been issued.

Part of the problem with that property is that they have been unable to contact or even determine the owner. City Attorney Carolyn Flannery needs to do a title search to know who owns the property.

Hanna says the condemnation posting was taken down, which he considered as serving it to the owner. Previously everything he sent to them came back unclaimed. The condemnation process on this goes back to 2009.

“I would like to attach something to that deed stating there is a correction order attached to that property,” said Hanna.

“I don’t know that it can stand another winter,” said Mayor Keith Nelsen.

“There is enough weather getting in there that we are on borrowed time,” agreed Hanna, who estimates it would cost $50-60,000 to tear it down.

Fire Chief Larry Couch advised the city to consider what would happen if it collapsed on the tracks and derailed a chlorine tanker.

“I think we’ve hit the place where we need to do it. I hate to do it ourselves because it is a loss,” said Nelsen.

David White, electric department head and former building inspector, said, “On the positive side, it would turn heads and make people realize the city is serious about dilapidated properties.”

Hanna noted that the city receives $25-30,000 yearly in by building permit fees.

In other matters, New Martinsville Police Department Chief of Police Tim Cecil gave the report of the department’s activities in connection with the department for September: Complaints received, 191; animal control complaints, 20; alarms, 24; traffic stops, 49; accidents investigated, 28; domestic violence calls, five; felony investigations, five, cleared, one; destruction other misdemeanor offenses, three, cleared, one; driving under the influence, one; juvenile offenders, two; misdemeanor arrests (non-road law), 22; misdemeanor arrests, (road law), 43; total arrests, 65.

Council asked Street Commissioner Gary Willey if he had a schedule for paving any streets. He said he plans to pave the north and south ends of Cherry Lane. Also, they will try to get Parkway as it didn’t get done at the end of the season last year. He said paving in the fall is actually ideal as 70 degrees is perfect for blacktop. The material cools fast, enabling the department to open streets to traffic more quickly.

Water and Sewer Department Head Pat Durant reported that work is continuing on the sewer project in Brooklyn. “We ran into a few problems,” said Durant, noting workers ran into a main gas line under the railroad tracks that was not marked.

Additionally, he said David Benson is working hard on looking for new water well sites. They have four sites on their list of possible locations.

“We want to drill one (test well) and see what we’ve got.” Said Durant. That way, if they get a good one, they won’t have to drill more.

Benson said some of the city’s water wells are about 40 years old. “We’re trying to be proactive to supplement now before something happens to our oldest well,” he said.

“If anyone has seen the new wells they have built up in Steelton, It’s fairly attractive for a residential area,” noted Mayor Nelsen.