Huntington WV, mayor announces city’s plan to demolish 119 unsafe structures

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HUNTINGTON — Workers demolished an unsafe home in the Fairfield East neighborhood of Huntington on Monday following the mayor’s announcement of plans to knock down several more.

“We are announcing today 119 additional structures on the unsafe buildings list will be demolished by the end of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2021,” the mayor said during a press conference at the demolition site at 942 27th St. in Huntington. “This is the first of 21 in this neighborhood.” The demolition is part of Project B.A.N.E., which stands of Blight and Nuisance Elimination.

Mat Winters, the city’s fire marshal, said demolishing dilapidated and unsafe structures make communities safer. “It improves the conditions for the residents and first responders,” he said. “Often these properties, through deterioration and neglect, become incredibly dangerous for our crews when they have to deal with emergency situations. Moving forward with this will continue to not only make it safer for the communities but also our firefighters.” Last year, 104 unsafe structures and homes were torn down through the B.A.N.E. project. “We have already seen a decrease in the number of fires in these types of buildings, and we hope to continue to get those numbers down,” Winters said.

Huntington City Council District 7 representative Mike Shockley said identifying the 21 unsafe homes in the Fairfield East neighborhood started with a walk with the mayor.

“Approximately a year ago we came up this street and identified these structures,” he said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. There is a long process that goes into place takes funding, planning and putting them on the list.”
Each year, inspectors drive through the city looking to see if any structures should be added to the unsafe properties list. People may also call in to complain about potentially unsafe homes. Once a house is determined to be unsafe, the city works to notify the owner, which can take several months in some cases. Owners have to go before the Unsafe Building Commission, which looks at the property and determines if it needs to be demolished. Once approved, the commission will determine the level of urgency of the demolition.

The city has a contract with one demolition company, which bypasses the need to bid out the demolition projects and seek approval from City Council for each home being torn down. Structures already demolished by the city include commercial properties, burned-out homes and dilapidated garages or outbuildings.

“Once these 119 unsafe structures are torn down, it doesn’t mean by June 30 we will be down to zero,” the mayor added. Approximately two unsafe structures are added to the unsafe building list each month. “We are constantly inspecting and will be reviewing properties to see if they belong on the unsafe buildings list, but what is there now will not be there come June 30,” Williams said.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD or email him at fpace@hdmediallc.com.

By FRED PACE The Herald-Dispatch 2 hrs ago

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