Commission rescinds decision for Holly Apartments

The burnt remains of Holly Apartments.

BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Commission rescinded a decision to exercise eminent domain and condemn Holly Apartments. The decision to rescind was made during the last regular meeting on Thursday, October 27 at 9 a.m.

Back on Thursday, August 25, the Upshur County Commission voted to exercise their rights regarding the unsafe property, Holly Apartments. The item was listed on the agenda as “Review the Upshur County Safe Structures and Sites Enforcement Board Petition for Order filed July 18, 2022- Case Number 031022-01(Meade Tax District- Tax Map 1- Parcel Numbers 50,52,53,54,55,56,57) owned by the Estate of John Harmon George and consider Order Adopting Enforcement Agency Findings.”

During the meeting on August 25, it was shared that the property was declared unsafe and detrimental. In that particular meeting, Upshur County Administrator Tabatha Perry shared, “We have received numerous calls from concerned residents pertaining to the safety of the property. At this point the property is detrimental and after discussing with legal counsel, it has been recommended for the commission to take steps to have the property condemned and exercise the power of eminent domain.”

It was also noted in the initial discussion of this property that it is not safe and could collapse upon entry. In addition to calls from concerned residents, local fire departments also voiced concerns over the property. During the August 25 Upshur County Commission meeting, Perry commented, “This particular case is different than most. The property is Holly Apartments and is part of an unclosed estate in which the executer of the estate has been unwilling to take steps to clean up the property. The remnants of the building have been untouched since the structure fire in May of 2021.” After deliberation, the commission voted to move forward with their legal counsel’s recommendation and proceed with eminent domain and condemnation of said property.

However, the item reappeared on Thursday’s agenda. Perry noted that, “A representative from a local church organization appeared and stated the George’s desired to gift the property to the church to use as recreational space.

“Unfortunately, the property is tied up in an open estate and is owned by two different people. Therefore, the commission rescinded their previous motion to seek taking possession of the property via eminent domain, which is a lengthy process and gave the executor of the estate 90 days to enter into a property use agreement with the church organization, and for the church to show they are making progress to bringing the property into compliance with the ordinance.”

The Upshur County Commission’s Safe Sites and Structures Ordinance Section 1.3 reads as follows:

“The purpose of this ordinance is to promote the public safety or welfare of Upshur County, West Virginia by requiring, as the case may be, the repair, alteration, improvement, vacating, closing, removal or demolition of dwellings or other buildings, or any combination thereof, 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 other conditions prevailing in any dwelling or building, whether used for human habitation or not, which would cause such dwellings or other buildings to be unsafe, unsanitary, dangerous or detrimental to the public safety or welfare, whether the result of natural or manmade force or effect, exclusive of buildings utilized for farm purposes or land actually being used for farming; and by requiring, as the case may be, the removal and clean-up of any accumulation of refuse or debris, overgrown vegetation or toxic spillage or toxic seepage located on private lands which is determined to be unsafe, unsanitary, dangerous or detrimental to the public safety or welfare whether the result of natural or manmade force or effect.”

Section 1.4 states, “This ordinance shall apply to all properties within Upshur County, West Virginia, exclusive of the incorporated towns and cities, properties of the United States Government and of the West Virginia State Government.”

The entire 19-page document can be viewed by visiting upshurcounty.org and typing safe sites and structures into the search bar.

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