Upshur Commission addresses clean-up issue
BUCKHANNON — After granting several extensions in the past, including a most recent 14-day extension, the Upshur County Commission took a sterner approach towards a property clean-up issue in the southern end of the county Thursday.
Most recently, the Diane Riffle property in Banks Task District was approved a 14-day extension to allow non-licensed recreational vehicles to be removed form the property with fines to be imposed beginning Nov. 19 if clean-up is not complete.
The residents of the property, Rodney and Angela McCoy, attended Thursday’s meeting in person along with Greg Harris, director of facilities, to discuss the most recent updates to the property clean-up. Harris returned to the property this week to take updated photographs, which were shared with the commissioners.
McCoy said after Harris left, he was able to move all but one of the trailers close to Route 4.
One trailer has old tires that need to be brought into the transfer station when funds allow, according to McCoy.
Commission President Terry Cutright asked McCoy where the trailers have been moved.
McCoy answered that he moved them to a friend’s house.
“When I get my other building built, I’m going to bring it back long enough to unload it and then it is going to Jerry Stouts,” he said. “I didn’t have room to put all this stuff.”
McCoy said he put one loaded trainer on his property and took the others away.
Commissioner Sam Nolte asked Harris how he felt about the property clean-up.
Harris said, “The right-of-way is definitely in good shape. That is what brought us into this situation. I still think there are probably some things that need to be done on the property itself. He has come a long ways. That’s for sure.”
Cutright said, “He may have come a long ways, but I am tired of playing this game. Anybody can clean up anything in a year and a half.”
County Administrator Carrie Wallace said, “The state REAP program took more than four tons of junk to the dump at a cost of $7,849.”
McCoy reiterated what he said at a previous meeting in that he will continue the clean-up of the property.
“I’m not gong to quit,” he said. ” I’m going to go ahead and get everything cleaned up, because I realized I let this get out of hand. I really did. I can only get rid of stuff as I have got the money to take into the landfill. I have taken in some loads that have cost me $200.”
“I’ve done everything you guys have asked me and all I have asked in return is a little bit of extra time each time,” he said.
But Cutright expressed his frustration with the length of the clean-up and the several extensions granted.
Cutright said, “I think you have been playing around.”
Anglea McCoy asked, “What do you mean by playing around, sir?
Cutright said, “It’s been a year and a half,” noting the McCoys got an extension from the UC Safe Sites and Structures board June 13, 2019.
Angela McCoy said. “You are also dealing with a man who is disabled who is only supposed to move so much at time.”
Cutright said, “In a year and a half, I think about anybody can clean up their property. That is my opinion. I’m tired of playing around.”
Angela McCoy said, “I feel insulted that you are saying that we are playing games. That is an insult.”
Cutright said, “I feel insulted to be run around in circles like this.”
Angela McCoy answered, “Excuse me, he has done a lot of work.”
Cutright replied, “A lot of work hasn’t gotten it to where we need to be.”
McCoy said, “I’m trying. There’s a lot of people out there who don’t even try.”
Angela McCoy said, “That stuff was not accumulated in one year. We have lived there forever. You do whatever you feel is necessary, sir, because you have the authority.”
Commissioner Kristie Tenney, who joined the meeting by teleconference, said, “After looking at these photos, is the concern the items that have been placed on someone else’s property that is being brought back?”
Cutright said, “That is part of the game.”
Cutright asked Harris how many campers had been moved over to the other property.
Harris said he couldn’t say for sure — two or three on other property.
Discussion then turned to the campers on the property which have not been registered through the DMV.
Angela McCoy said, “There are people living in two of those campers – homeless people that we gave a home because they have no where to go. We gave them the campers to live in.”
Nolte said, “The property has improved a great deal since the very beginning. I understand you may have some physical limits that you can only do in a certain day, according to your property We have given you a good deal of time to improve it, which I feel you have improved it. Our concern is we may be right back in the same position a year from now if we close this case because you guys have taken some of this and just slid it right over the property line.
“If what you are saying is true and you have intentions of continuing to clean up the property I wouldn’t have a problem closing this particular case. I agree with Mr. Cutright, this has gone on for too long. If another complaint comes before us on your properties, it is going to be a 30-day deadline to get it cleaned up and it would be a fine thereafter. That is my personal opinion.
“If we get any more complaints on your property, it’s not going to be six months, a year. It’s going to be 30 days and then the fine will start. I do expect you to continue to clean up your property like you are saying. All it takes is one person to write a complaint to safe sites and if they go out there and deem it needs to be improved, you are going to be on the clock for 30 days.”
Angela McCoy seemed visibly emotional as she said, “If it costs me a divorce, there will be not be any more campers brought onto the property. I am sorry. I am one person. I feel like I have been brought into this and punished for something that was not my fault.”
Tenney brought up concerns about the items being shifted from one property to another to be brought into compliance and expressed concern with closing the case.
Nolte, said, “I agree. It appears the property in question has come into compliance, but we realize they have moved vehicles and trailers to an adjoining property that is not part of the complaint.”
Tenney made a motion that the McCoys get the campers licensed and/or gone by Dec. 3.
“At that time, we will look and make our further decision of how to proceed if it is not complaint,” she said. Nolte seconded. A fine of $50 a day will be instituted if not compliant.
Cutright voted no but the motion passed.
“The ayes have it,” Cutright said. “You have until Dec. 3. Get rid of the trailers and comply, or we start the fines.”