Wheeling City Council to Consider Updating Property Code Enforcement

WHEELING — City Council will consider changes to how Wheeling’s property maintenance rules are enforced at its meeting today.

The body will hear the first reading of a measure to amend city code on property maintenance enforcement. The measure is designed to resolve property maintenance problems more effectively and efficiently.

“This process started a number of months ago with numerous complaints about code enforcement actions,” Councilman Dave Palmer said. “Basically what we’ve done is streamlined this a little bit.”

If the changes are approved, Wheeling residents who violate the property maintenance code will receive a pre-written letter informing them that they have 10 days to remedy the problem, or face a $100 fine, Palmer explained.

If the problem is resolved within those 10 days, the fine will go away for a resident’s first offense, he said.

Currently, Wheeling code enforcement officers write personal letters to residents and issue court summonses in a process that can take 30 to 60 days, Palmer said.

Residents would still have the right to have the matter decided in municipal court, though, he noted.

The changes also include simplifying fines for violations determined by the court, which currently has to weigh two sets of rules, city code and International Property Maintenance Code.

For example, residents issued trash, grass or weeds violations would have to pay a $100 fine for their first offense and $250 for their second offense.

Palmer added that he drafted the changes along with Nancy Prager, Wheeling’s community development director, and Tom Wilson, code enforcement officer.

“We’re really hoping, we don’t want to fine anyone, but we hope that if someone does get a fine they’ll take heed to it and fix the issue,” Palmer said. “It’s not a money grab, it’s just trying to streamline the process a little bit.”

At the meeting, council will vote on spending ordinances for infrastructure upgrades totaling near $4 million. Projects involve building new water wells and performing design work on Wheeling’s wastewater and stormwater projects.

A facade improvement grant for 1109 Main St. is also on the meeting’s agenda. The city recently sold the property, along with 1107 Main St., to local developers for a nominal fee to do major renovations and repairs.

Through Wheeling’s facade improvement program, the city can provide up to $15,000 in grant money for improvements to a downtown building’s exterior.

A proposed zone amendment that would allow a bank to be built on National Road is not on council’s agenda. The Planning Commission forwarded the matter to council last month, and Mayor Glenn Elliott said council could consider it at a future meeting.

Council will also hear first readings of projects previously approved by its Development Committee, including redeveloping a vacant bar at 3532 Jacob St. and abandoning an alley, Lane 39, on Wheeling Island.

Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. today in its chambers in the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.

Beforehand, Council’s Rules Committee will meet at 5 p.m. to discuss city code on city swimming pools and its finance committee will meet at 5:15 p.m. to discuss a revision to the city’s proposed budget.

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