Municipal officials are doing the right thing when they raze structures that are safety and/or health hazards, providing the owner does nothing to make necessary repairs. But the situation is very different when an attempt is being made to correct deficiencies.
A Moundsville woman says she falls into the latter category regarding a house she owns in Bellaire. Though she is attempting to repair the structure, at 4172 Harrison Street, Bellaire Village Council has ordered it be torn down.
The situation is complex, according to a published report. But it appears Sonya Shreve, owner of the building, believed she had been given until Oct. 20 to make repairs to the house. In May, she was notified by the village that unless repairs were made within 60 days, the structure would be demolished.
During a June 4 Village Council meeting, officials rejected her appeal to allow her to continue repairing the structure. Council voted - in a session closed to the press and public - to have the house razed, Shreve said.
If indeed council members took such a vote behind closed doors, it was an illegal action. Ohio's open meetings law makes that quite clear.
Shreve has said she made several repairs called for by the municipal building inspector, and just wants time to finish work on the house. At some point she hopes to live there.
Of course, not all dilapidated buildings can be repaired. Some have deteriorated to the point no amount of work can bring them into compliance with building code requirements. If that is the case with Shreve's structure, however, why was she not informed before she began making repairs?
Former village building inspector Jim Chase, who originally gave Shreve a permit to repair the house, has said she was making progress. Admitting much work remains to be done, Chase wonders whether the village's efforts would be better directed against property owners who are making no attempts to repair their buildings.
That is a good question and, assuming it is not too late to stop the wrecking crew scheduled to demolish Shreve's building, it is one that should be answered before the house is razed.