Commission to present unsafe buildings ordinance

ELKINS — The Randolph County Commission is planning a series of public meetings to present a proposed unsafe buildings and lands ordinance.

Commission President Mark Scott said the meetings will take place in June. He said no dates had yet been set but noted commissioners hoped to have four meetings, with one each in the areas of Montrose, Harman, Mill Creek and Coalton.

Unsafe or dilapidated properties located within Elkins city limits are under the city’s jurisdiction.

“We have gone through the process as commissioners of reviewing that ordinance,” Scott said at the most recent commission meeting. “We have contacted the West Virginia University Law Clinics, which we engaged a relationship with a couple of months ago. We have had multiple conversations with them. They have reviewed the ordinance, have cleaned it up. They’ve made it to where it as unchallengeable as it can be, and we are at the point now that we would like to begin to present it to the public through town hall meetings throughout the county.”

At that meeting, commissioners approved signing a contractual agreement with Sutton Stokes to serve as the host of the informational meetings. Stokes, a former city clerk for the city of Elkins, will be paid “a fixed fee” of $2,625.

“We felt like we really needed someone who has experience to guide these meetings, someone who has the professional expertise when it comes to answering questions,” Scott said.

“He has shepherded many ordinances over the years, when he was the clerk of the city,” Scott added. “As many of you know, I served on council for six years. I’ve seen him firsthand answer questions from the public, get information for them. He’s very thorough in his research, he’s very good in answering questions.

“So we asked him if he would be willing to do this, and after a great deal of speaking to him, he said that he would be and that he would do these meetings, answer all the questions … create a power point presentation for us, supply text to the newspaper for ads displaying the meetings, supply text to blogs and social media posts.”

Scott encouraged the public to attend the informational meetings.

“We really want to publicize this. We want to hear from the public. We want them to come, ask questions, give them a copy of the draft ordinance where they can digest it, and they can get back in touch with us,” he said. “We really want to know what the public thinks of this ordinance.”

Scott stressed the commission will not vote on the ordinance until after the informational meetings.

“There’s been huge public outcry about this issue,” Scott said. “We’ve got so many distressed properties, but we want to do it right, and that’s why we want to get the public involved.”