PRINCETON — Public hearing dates were set earlier this week to get citizens’ input about a proposed dilapidated structures ordinance being considered by the Mercer County Commission.
An abandoned and dilapidated building ordinance drafted by the Mercer County Planning Commission has been submitted to the county commission for consideration. Commissioner Greg Puckett said Tuesday during a meeting held on Zoom and Facebook Live that Prosecuting Attorney Brian Cochran, who is the county’s attorney, had reviewed it.
“I’m okay with it,” County Commission President Gene Buckner said. “I think we can start these things and have three public meetings and move on with this.”
Buckner said that two of the public hearings could be done on Zoom and Facebook Live, but he believed that one should be done in person who citizens will have more opportunities to ask questions about the proposed ordinance. Using one of the judges’ courtrooms at the Mercer County Courthouse would allow the commission to conduct this hearing while maintaining social distancing against COVID-19. The meeting will be done virtually over the internet as well.
The commissioners scheduled two public hearings: the first will be Feb. 23 at 10 a.m., followed by the second one on March 9 starting at 10 a.m. Both of these meeting will be conducted online. The third public hearing will begin a 6 p.m., March 23, in at the Mercer County Courthouse.
“It will officially be released at our first hearing, which will be on the 23rd of this month,” Commissioner Greg Puckett stated. “It will be a full reading of that and from there, we’ve got to have three readings before it passes; but we’ll publicized and have a full reading to get it into the record.”
The Mercer County Planning Commission has been working on a dilapidated building ordinance ever since the county’s comprehensive plan, a long-term development plan, was created in 2018.
“Just a couple of months after that, we had gone out and tried to find a dilapidated (structures) ordinance that would share our needs; of course, the planning commission had said this is a major concern and we need to address it,” Puckett said.
The county planning commission looked at several different dilapidated structures ordinances while drafting one for local use.
“It’s based of Raleigh (County). We also took stuff from Berkley, Greenbrier. It’s kind of a mix of a few counties,” Puckett said. “We added pieces in just to make it right for us.”
Puckett emphasized that the proposed ordinance is not a zoning ordinance.
“This is not zoning,” he said. “We are not concerned about dilapidated structures on farmlands. We are concerned about mobile homes, trailers, campers, things that we address in the ordinance. All of these things are something that are a nuisance within our county.”
In other business, the commissioners discussed a funding request for the operating expenses for the Mercer County Public Service Commission and for an invoice regarding testing at the Matoaka sewage treatment plant. PSD Chairman Mike Kennett spoke to the commissioners about the Matoaka sewage system’s ongoing expenses.
Kennett told the commissioners that the Town of Matoaka could be formally dissolved soon. In May 2018, the town’s residents voted to end Matoaka’s incorporation. The PSD does not take in any funds in now, he said. The funds that sewage customers pay go to the town, and the county PSD was unsure where that money was going.
Buckner said that the PSD write a letter to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia about the matter, and that the county commission draft a letter supporting Kennett’s inquiry.
Puckett said the commission’s recommendation is to have a meeting including Kennett, former Matoaka Mayor Marsha Howell, and attorneys Phillip Ball and Bill Winfrey “to make sure everybody is on the same page.” A meeting date had not been set Tuesday, but the goal is to convene one within 48 hours of the commissioner’s meeting. Buckner will represent the county commission during the meeting.
“It looks as though the dissolution of the town is a go,” Puckett said. “So we need to get that together so that can be done.”
“Once the dissolution happens, that will absolve the town of the debt from my understanding and then that will put everyone on the same page, and then the PSD can officially take over the services,” he said. “We should have some information by the next time (the county commission) meets.”
Contact Greg Jordan at email@example.com