BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Commissioners implemented a fine in the unresolved, year-long Gardner Case Number 010920-01 (Warren Tax District – Tax Map 8D – Parcel Number 12,13,14) in their meeting last Thursday morning. This case originated in January 2020 and was submitted to the Commission in August 2020.
The Order Setting Forth Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law entered on December 3, 2020, provided the property owners with 30 calendar days to take corrective action with respect to the property at issue. Once again, Commissioners viewed photos of the property in which William Phillips, Gardner’s son-in-law, resides. On Dec. 3, Phillips explained to Commissioners that he would soon be receiving storage buildings to store the remaining items on the property. Commissioner Sam Nolte asked Phillips how long it would take him to get this property in compliance and Phillips responded, “When my buildings come in this weekend.”
County Administrator Carrie Wallace informed Phillips that he would be required to get permits for the buildings arriving, so Commissioners agreed to give Phillips another 30-day extension. After that time was up, a fine of $50 per day would be implemented if the property remained noncompliant with the ordinance. Unfortunately, by Thursday morning, Nolte noted that little, if any, work has been done on the property since the matter was last addressed on Dec. 3.
Ms. Gardner thanked Commissioners for the time they’ve given her and pleaded, “I’ve tried picking things up myself… I’m just beside myself. I know it’s wrong, but I really haven’t been able to control the situation. I don’t know if you guys can give him one more chance. I just need help. I wish it would all go away.” Nolte explained that they have had several meetings about this case and given several extensions. Commissioner Cutright wanted to implement the fine last meeting, but Phillips guaranteed the Commission that the property would be cleaned up. “By looking at these photos, he’s done nothing that’s noticeable,” Nolte stated. The Commissioners agreed that the only way this property was going to improve is by implementing the fine.
The previous order explained that if the property wasn’t cleaned up, a fine starting January 8, for real property owner and personal property owner, would be implemented. Therefore, a $50 fine would be imposed upon each property owner—Gardner as the real property owner, and Phillips as the tenant whose junk is on the property.
Nolte made a motion to implement the fine starting January 8 and to revisit the issue 30 days from January 7, unless they are contacted by the property owners getting word that it is in compliance prior to that date in order to send a compliance officer to inspect the property. Cutright seconded the motion and stated, “We’ve given you a ton of time. This case has been open a long time.”