SAGA CONTINUES ON REPAIRS, RAZING
WHEELING – A building codes official’s work is never done – just ask Tom Wilson.
At the moment, Wilson’s city department has about 200 different cases of properties with violations that need fixed.
That doesn’t include the numerous buildings that are likely beyond repair.
One of the latest examples is 111-113 31st St. in South Wheeling. A portion of the building collapsed six weeks ago and then collapsed again three weeks ago.
”It’s been vacant for a long time,” he noted.
The case was in Municipal Court two weeks ago. Wilson, Municipal Judge Don Nickerson, the property owner, listed through Ohio County tax records as Thomas M. Isiminger, and the contractor are trying to come up with a plan for demolition.
But it must be done carefully as the building shares a second-floor common wall with another structure with two units that still have people living in them.
Isiminger does not have a listed home address, and a telephone listing also could not be found for him.
Wilson said there is no danger of the dilapidated structure falling into the lived-in units on its own. But the razing work must be done in such a manner to either leave the wall or be able to build a new one.
”The biggest problem is taking down the two units without exposing the others that are occupied,” he said.
Cynthia Hutchison, who owns the neighboring units at 115-117 31st St., said she has griped about the dilapidated building in the past with no results.
”I have (complained) … and nothing ever gets done,” she said, adding she believes the owner of the dilapidated units is delaying taking action on his property.
In the case of 111-113 31st St., the owners can apparently afford to raze the building, but often others cannot.
”A lot people, because of their financial situation or personal situation, do not have the money to do what we need them to do,” Wilson said.
For example, after talking with the owner of 125 1/2 14th St., Mary Littleton, on Wednesday, Wilson determined the woman does not have the money to either raze or make repairs to the house. The structure has had two partial collapses during the past month, the most recent collapse occurring about a week ago.
Since Wilson and Fire Chief Larry Helms believe the building is not an immediate danger to other structures or passersby, it cannot be deemed in need of an emergency demolition by the city.
Wilson said, however, Littleton, who recently purchased the building for $400 from a friend, can apply to have the structure razed using federal Community Development Block Grant money. The process of getting to the actual tear-down point is a long one, however, as there are numerous steps to take beforehand – which Wilson described as ”red tape.”
”There are a lot of older structures in Wheeling. We work with people to get them repaired – the last resort is tearing them down,” he said. ”Every situation is different. A lot of times people are destitute or on a fixed income. They can apply for CDBG and if they qualify they can be put on the list. If it’s repairable, sometimes we try to find buyers for the property. There are also church groups that help people repair places.”