Marlinton Council hears Hillside Apartments complaint

GH_MarlintonCouncilsmMarlinton Town Council dealt with two inter-connected issues involving substandard properties during its meeting Monday night.

First, Council heard a complaint from Sally Ribeiro regarding the condition of Hillside Apartments at 805 Tenth Avenue. Ribeiro said there are several uncorrected fire safety violations at the building and showed copies of fire inspection reports to Council. She said the apartment building is a nuisance because residents throw garbage bags out of upper story windows and litter blows from the property onto hers.

Mayor Joe Smith said he had spoken to the property owner, Melissa Galford Griffin, who lives out-of-state.

“She relayed to me that she would correct, through her ex-husband, what could be corrected,” said Smith. “And that she would have him inform her tenants that all garbage had to be in containers, and if they didn’t have a container, to get one. She will be here at the end of this month – she’s in Utah – or the first of next month.”

Smith said Deputy State Fire Marshal Tim Mouse had visited Hillside Apartments.

“I did contact the Fire Marshal,” said Smith. “I was really pleased with the fast response. I think I called them on Friday and they were here on the following Wednesday. He was unable to do a follow-up inspection because he could not get access to the building because nobody was there. Without somebody physically being there, he would not enter the building.”

Ribeiro said she has no confidence that Griffin will follow through.

“Words are cheap,” she said. “She has promised to do so much. My family has lived there all of my life. I’m 67 years old and I’ve been dealing with this lady for as long as she has owned the property. Her words don’t mean much to me. When I was there July Fourth, I was standing in my backyard, taking pictures of the garbage cans, when somebody opened a second floor window and just dropped their garbage out.”

Smith said another agenda item was closely related to Ribeiro’s problem.

“We have an ordinance, to be second-read tonight, that if it passes, it formulates an authority to deal with these problems,” he said. “We’ve been working on this ordinance for two years. It creates a board, which consists of the building inspector, the mayor, and representatives of fire and health agencies. They can shut that building down right now.”

Council approved the Health and Sanitation ordinance on second reading. The ordinance will go into effect after approval on third reading.

Council considered a package for town employees including a two-percent cost-of-living pay raise for all town employees, small merit raises for selected employees, and the addition of three holidays: Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day and West Virginia Day.

Recorder Robin Mutscheller opposed the measure.

“If you drive around town and you look at the dumpsters that are overflowing with garbage, where we don’t pick it up – I think we ought to be looking out for our customers,” she said.

Council voted 4-1 to approve the pay raises and holidays. Mutscheller voted in opposition and Councilmember Louise Barnisky abstained.

Fire Board President Thomas Barnisky submitted an updated financial report to Council and said an audit would be forthcoming. Smith provided Barnisky with a list of repairs to fire safety infrastructure that the town had completed in the past month, including the painting of fire hydrants and weed-eating around fire hydrants.

Engineer Fred Hypes, with Dunn Engineers, reported that his firm has been working with Region IV to obtain a loan for design work on an upgraded town water system. Hypes said Region IV Executive Director John Tuggle contacted the Water Development Authority and Infrastructure Council last week regarding the loan.

In other business, Marlinton Council:
– Set Halloween trick or treating hours for October 31 from 5 to 7 p.m.;
– Authorized Smith to get a quote on tree trimming;
– Approved a refund for building rent for the Department of Agriculture Warriors to Agriculture Program; and,
– Tabled action on updates to the Animal Ordinance.

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