Property Rescue Initiative Meets With Local Representatives
A special meeting was recently held with representatives from many towns of the community including New Martinsville, Sistersville, Middlebourne, Paden City, and Friendly, in regards to many of the old, unsightly, dilapidated building in the Tyler and Wetzel Counties.
Property Rescue Initiative provides municipalities , counties, and eligible organizations with free technical assistance and loan financing to implement or expand dilapidated building mitigation programs. These loans have an interest rate of 0 percent for the first two years. After that it goes to two percent and maxes out at 5 percent interest.
Property Rescue Initiative is partnered with West Virginia Community Development Hub, the Northern WV Brownsfields Assistance Center and the Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Clinic.
The Hub is designed to work with partners to establish a starting point for these projects and provides community Leadership. The Northern WV Brownsfield Assistance Center provides technical assistance through BAD Buildings Program which works with communities to identify problem properties, conduct site research, build relationships with property owners, adopt and enforce municipal building codes, and identify reuse options for prioritized buildings.
Members shared similar views about several buildings in the area needing to come down but it is not as easy as it may seem. It takes money to remove these building but many feel that property values will increased after the unsightly buildings are removed. Some of the problems mentioned were that some of the buildings are tied up in family litigation, many landlords are absent from the area, property owners can’t afford to make upgrades, flood insurance rates and some people just refuse to pay fines or follow city ordinances. Without a building inspector in Tyler County, it makes it even more difficult to enforce these problem properties.
Property Rescue proposed that they will create a team of local volunteers to survey the area to find out which homes need addressed the most and Property Rescue will look into all the legal aspects of monitoring these homes. This creates a starting point for addressing these homes. Home owners will then be confronted as to what to do with their homes to keep them up to regulation or to have them torn down.
There were several suggestion on how to get these uninterested parties to take action with their homes such as taxing dilapidated homes, getting a building inspector to enforce building codes, and even getting the community to pressure the homeowners into action.
Property Rescue Initiative stated that they can offer grants of up to 200,000 dollars to these communities if the local towns decide to take this course of action. The only problem is that there must be a reasonable way to pay back these loans and with flood insurance rates and these communities lacking in funds, that could become a potential problem. None of this will happen quickly as it is a time consuming fix but at least the problem is being discussed and the communities are trying to find ways to clean up the area.
Some of the positives of the meeting were that it can raise community awareness, it can create a safer community, it is a chance to update and revise codes to be more specific for each town, and it brought forth active discussion on how to solve these problems that have been facing these communities for years.