ROMNEY — The town has started the approval process for an ordinance that targets vacant properties.

Initial approval was given to the vacant and uninhabitable structure registration ordinance at the Nov. 12 monthly meeting. 

It requires owners of “uninspected and unmonitored” properties to identify them to the city and pay a series of escalating fees the longer the properties sit.

A vacant property on the books for a year costs $500, rising to $1,000 after 2 years, $2,000 after 3 years, $3,500 after 4 years and $5,000 after 5 — and $5,000 for each year thereafter.

Vacant buildings that are also uninhabitable will incur an additional $100-a-year fine under the existing building code.

The establishing clause of the ordinance calls vacant buildings a fire hazard and a shelter for illegal activities, contending they detract from neighboring properties and require additional services to protect the public safety, health and welfare.

The ordinance was drafted by the WVU Law School Land Use Clinic.

The council also adopted the 1st reading of another property ordinance, the international property maintenance code authorized by the state fire marshal.

It brings the town in conformity with state law and codes around the world on property maintenance responsibilities.

In other business:

• Ashley Clem has been hired as the town clerk and treasurer. She will be taking over the position held by Betty Colebank, who is retiring after 46 years.

Clem’s Dec. 2 start date will give her a month to train with Colebank.

• The Council voted to approve the naming of the alley between 295 West Rosemary and 160 North Charlevoix. The County GIS office will be notified and asked to name the alley.

• The 5th installment of the sewer project in Rannells Acres was authorized for payment.

• Due to the lines of customers that sometimes occur at the inside window of the Town Hall’s payment office, the Council approved widening the window to facilitate 2 clerks being able to provide speedier service. That project and some new tile will cost $4,000.

• Appointments to various boards were approved. Keri Shreve and Jamie Carter join the Romney Parks and Recreation Board; Bob Kidwell joins the Housing Authority Board; and Carter Wagoner, Ruby Winn, Richard Shanholtzer and Dennis Morris join the Planning Commission.

Senior Editor Jim King contributed to this report.

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