As the Town of Berryville continues to exercise a proactive stance against blighted properties within the town limits, the planning commission faces more hearings and further actions on other properties. After the marathon hearing on the Josephine Street property, the commission dealt with two other properties that are in-process for spot blight abatement: 109 Liberty Street, and a two-story barn on First Street. Town Manager Keith Dalton updated the commission on the status of both properties.
109 Liberty Street sits behind orange snow fence and still exhibits an expired permit for demolition. The Town Manager outlined the steps taken to work with the owner and said that, as it currently stands in-process, “He was sent a thirty day notice to produce a blight abatement plan and has not responded.”
Failure to respond advances the process to the public hearing phase at which point the Town Manager will produce an abatement plan for the property. If the owner fails to take action on the abatement plan then the town will contract for the work and charge the owner for the cost.
Vice-chair Robert Ferrebee said, “It’s clear his intent is to demolish.” He asked Keith Dalton, “Has there been any response at all from the home owner?” He responded, “No sir.”
The motion was made to set a public hearing and was approved unanimously. A hearing was set for September 27th.
The property on First Street has seen some significant activity. The current owners have indicated to the town that they intend to demolish two of the structures and leave the single story structure on the north side of the property intact. Work commenced this summer to remove the old Mercer Oil building and there are currently 2 dumpsters on site. However the Town Manger said that work had unexpectedly stopped. He said he had spoken with the owners who indicated that they intended for the two-story part of the structure to be torn down, it just hasn’t happened. Alluding to possible causes for the slow down Dalton said, “This is a tough site to work on. They are very close to the railroad on the east side and very close to the road on the west. We assisted with getting the railroad there to talk and getting VDOT there to talk and everything was moving forward.”
The property is one that has more of an impact on the community than any of the other properties being considered for blight abatement. There have been frequent incidents when loose building materials have blown off of the structure into First Street posing a hazard. Commission member Larry Russell said he had been in the property and added, ” This place needs to go, the roof is gone, the walls are gone, the floor is gone, its all gone.”
Since the work has ceased the town has advanced the spot blight abatement process on this property as well.
“A 30 day letter was issued. It is not ready to set a public hearing now but by the next meeting you will be able to set that hearing,” Dalton told the commission adding, “My hope is that the property owner will deal with this in an appropriate amount of time.”
If the owner fails to respond within 30 days with an appropriate plan for abatement the Planning Commission can advance the process at it’s next meeting.