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Huntington to demolish 13 unsafe buildings

Herald-Dispatch photo by Lori Wolfe This house located at 1662 9th Ave., is scheduled for demolition.
Herald-Dispatch photo by Lori Wolfe
This house located at 1662 9th Ave., is scheduled for demolition.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Thirteen structures in Huntington that are not only eyesores to residents but also a threat to their safety will soon disappear.

The Huntington City Council approved the demolition of the unsafe structures Tuesday night during its regular meeting.

City Councilwoman Sandra Clements said she is pleased to see the city taking steps to rid the area of these unsafe properties.

 Several of the properties being demolished are located in the area she represents, District 5.

The 13 structures on the ordinance are currently on the Unsafe Building Commission list, including 829 Burlington Road, 1451 9th Ave., 1823 8th Ave., 1851-1851 1/2 12th Ave. and 2138 10th Ave., which will be demolished by Danny Sullivan Excavating LLC of Coal Grove, Ohio, at a cost of $28,100.

J.T Excavating of Cross Lanes, West Virginia, will handle the demolition for the structures at 1405 11th Ave., 1638 Charleston Ave., 1662 9th Ave., 2108-2110 9th Ave., 2403 10th Ave. and 2812 Wright Ave. for a total cost of $31,186.

The final two structures at 1816 8th Ave. and 2753 Parson St. will be demolished by Solid Rock Construction Services LLC of Portsmouth, Ohio, for $11,730.

Nine of the structures are being paid for by an anonymous source that donated $100,000 to the city in order to assist with the demolition of substandard and dilapidated buildings.

The remaining properties will be paid for out of the city’s Community Development Block Grant funds.

Christal Perry, the project manager for the Community Development Block Grant, said the demolition of these structures should begin within the coming weeks.

In May, the city approved the demolition of eight structures on the Unsafe Building Commission list.

Nineteen more structures are expected to be demolished before the end of the year, bringing this year’s total to 40.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams serves as chairman for the city’s Unsafe Building Commission and his designee, Tom Bell, said there are about 250 properties currently on the Unsafe Building Commission list but there are hundreds more that could be added.

Bell said the process for adding a building to the Unsafe Building Commission list includes identifying the property, notifying the property owner, conducting a hearing before the Unsafe Building Commission and then having the commission vote on whether the property should be added to the list.

 From there the commission prioritizes which homes pose the greatest threat and should be demolished first.

While it would be the ideal scenario for the property owner to handle the cost of the demolition or repair of the property, Perry said oftentimes that is not the case and a lien is placed on the property.

Perry added that while the city has taken on the burden to demolish these unsafe structures, most of the properties are privately owned.

However, Perry said some of the properties have been donated to the city’s land bank, releasing the property owners of their obligations.

Established in 2009, HURA’s land bank program is designed to capture as many dilapidated properties in the city as possible during annual county tax lien sales and return them to productive use.

In other business, council approved an ordinance to furnish the Huntington Police Department with a 2017 Ford Utility Police Interceptor for $30,919 and a 2017 Ford Sedan Police Interceptor for $27,517 from Stephens Auto Center in Danville, West Virginia. The total cost of $58,436 will be paid for by the recent drug forfeiture, according to the ordinance.

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