Preserve Wheeling’s Historic Buildings

Wheeling’s beautiful Victorian-era buildings can be an important contributor to prosperity in the future. For that to happen, there will have to be more opportunities for them to be used for both businesses and rental housing.

Existing building codes can make that difficult, as writers of the proposed new comprehensive plan for the city emphasize. The cost of renovating an old building to meet safety and health regulations designed for new construction can be prohibitive.

Part of the comprehensive plan proposal calls for reexamination of building codes to determine whether they can be less restrictive and expensive for historic buildings – while not making safety and health compromises.

That certainly seems sensible, but if Wheeling officials choose to pursue it, they may not be able to act on their own. Changes in state law may be required.

Adoption of the comprehensive plan will occur by the end of the year. In the meantime, there probably will be changes to the draft being discussed now.

Still, city and state officials should consider the building code suggestion. If it is feasible, the sooner changes can be made, the better.