ROMNEY — The Hampshire County Commission heard plans Tuesday for grant funds to demolish the old Hampshire Memorial Hospital building at their meeting.
They also discussed a petition from the town of Romney to annex Valley View, the circa 1855 brick manor home that sits along the Potomac Eagle railroad tracks just west of the Romney Business Park.
A public hearing to be held today on the 2nd floor of the courthouse, on the Hampshire County Development Authority’s application for a Community Development Block Grant for funds to be used for demolition of the hospital building.
A 2nd public hearing will be held on Zoom at 8 a.m. Jan. 28 (a Thursday). The County Commission agreed to hold a special session directly afterwards, at 9 a.m., to give final approval.
Development Authority Executive Director Eileen Johnson said the block grant for which they will apply, plus support from the WVU Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund, will pay both for demolition and restoration of the site so that it can be used for one of the county’s new elementary schools.
She pointed out that since grant funds that can be used for demolition of a building are hard to find, the program will be quite competitive.
The 2 public hearings must be held at least 2 weeks apart, and the county commission must then sign off on the grant proposal, since application must be made on behalf of the county.
The development authority cannot apply for the loan directly.
After the County Commission approves the grant application, Johnson will drive it to Charleston and hand-deliver it, to make sure it arrives before the deadline.
The commissioners discussed and tabled an application by Romney to annex the property on which Valley View is situated. Owner Bob Mayhew currently rents out Valley View on AirBnB, and indicated police protection would be an added benefit for his tenants. AirBnB currently lists the rental price as $600 per night.
Mayor Beverly Keadle presented the town’s request for annexation to the commission, explaining that since the property is adjacent to the town and the sole property owner has requested it, their approval is all that is needed.
Mayhew said he was motivated by affection for the police, along with his affection for the town of Romney given his previous enterprise as the town’s Chevrolet dealer.
The property is already classified by the county as a rental, and annexation would make it a Class 4 property that would be taxable by the town as well as the county. Mayhew described it as “a win-win for everybody, except my checkbook.”
Commissioner Bob Hott, however, was concerned about a legal dispute over what was described by Mayhew as a “200-year old deeded right-of-way” that Mayhew said does not affect the property to be annexed, but just a barnyard adjacent to it.
He was not opposed to the county investigating legal liability first, noting he had started the annexation process a year ago, so “what’s another month?”
All 3 commissioners agreed to table the matter until their Feb. 9 meeting, and ask the county prosecutor to review the annexation plans.
In other business, the commissioners signed off on accepting a grant of $25,000 for a piece of equipment for the sheriff’s department, described by county grant writer Erin Timbrook as a laser device that will identify chemical compounds.
Commissioner Brian Eglinger reported the county ambulance board was proceeding with civil suits over unpaid ambulance bills.