Dilapidated structure

A building from Bluefield's 2018 round of demolition of dilapidated structures gets torn down

CHARLESTON —Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed Senate Bill 368, authorizing the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) to develop a statewide program to assist county commissions and municipalities remediate abandoned and dilapidated structures.

As part of the agency’s due diligence, the WVDEP is seeking information on existing dilapidated structures programs from around the state to determine the most efficient means to support such efforts and assist in creating new ones.

An online questionnaire has been sent to county and municipal leaders across West Virginia and the results will be used in the design of the WVDEP’s program and to help locate substantial financial support.

All responses are to be submitted by Tuesday, Aug. 31.

In April, the Legislature passed legislation that Swope sponsored, Senate Bill 368, and Gov. Jim Justice signed it into law.

The bill authorizes the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop the Reclamation of Abandoned and Dilapidated Properties Program.

Economic conditions that created the problem of abandoned and dilapidated structures also leave cities and counties with no money to address the demolition work, Swope said. For example, McDowell County alone has between 5,000 to 8,000 abandoned homes that should be demolished.

“So the program that we wrote, which I sponsored, assigns this task to the DEP which is a solid waste removal issue anyway,” Swope said.” That’s what they’re in charge of. They are now qualified to put a statewide program together that can approach this demolition project on an industrial scale, the way I like to refer to it.”

Demolishing dilapidated structures found across the state will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a study conducted by West Virginia University.

“WVU did a study three years ago that put the cost estimated for all of West Virginia at $150 million for houses, and another $400 million for other structures for a total of over $500 million,” Swope said.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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