Scott Gibb has only been the Town of Marlinton Code Enforcement Officer for two months, but in that time, he has made great strides in enforcing the health and sanitation, and nuisance ordinances in regard to dilapidated properties and properties with an excess of items in their yards.
Gibb hit the ground running after he was hired and drove around town, making note of the properties that needed to be cleaned up or dwellings that needed to be torn down. He said he issued nearly 20 letters to property owners, explaining they had 10 days to address the issues.
“If after ten days they hadn’t addressed the issue, the mayor can appoint the appropriate staff members or contractor to come in and remove the debris and then send them a bill, and proceed with any legal action necessary to recoup the bill,” Gibb said. “That’s basically how it got the ball rolling.”
While several residents went into action cleaning up their properties, Gibb said there were a few who had difficulty with the cleanup. Gibb spoke to those residents and offered assistance – be it a free dumpster or a crew to help remove larger items – he said the town was ready and willing to help those who needed it.
One of the biggest transformations was along Upper Tannery Row, where four dilapidated houses were demolished and removed after the property owners realized the dire shape they were in.
“One property owner didn’t know that the houses were that bad,” Gibb said. “They live out of state and saw pictures of the property. Not only did they call us the next afternoon, they had already talked to three different contractors about tearing them down because they were embarrassed.”
Now, with the properties cleaned up, the owner’s phone has been ringing off the hook with offers to buy the property.
“With the dilapidated structures taken down and the property cleaned up, it’s worth a lot more money,” Gibb said. “As people start to find that out, it will be a lot easier to deal with these dilapidated properties.”
There have been issues with some property owners, but for the most part, Gibb said the cleanup effort has met with eager owners wanting a fresh start for their lots.
The cleanup effort has caught the attention of residents who have shared their appreciation with Gibb.
“I had a guy come over and thank me,” Gibb said. “He said, ‘people don’t realize, but you’re increasing their property values. I appreciate what you’re doing.’ The assessed value of property is going to go up because places like this are getting cleaned up.”
The cleanup continues as more property owners are working with the town to remove debris or have abandoned houses torn down.
“It’s coming along,” Gibb said.