KEYSER - In the first round of voting as part of the City of Keyser's latest crack-down on unkempt properties, the council moved recently to fine the owners of 16 properties which they found to be in violation of the city's code.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - In the first round of voting as part of the City of Keyser’s latest crack-down on unkempt properties, the  council moved recently to fine the owners of 16 properties which they found to be in violation of the city’s code.
Following the resignation of code enforcement officer Shane LaRue earlier this year to take another job, the Keyser City Council voted on May 8 to bump up two department heads’ pay by $1 and add code enforcement to their duties.
Since then, streets and sewer supervisor Jim Hannas and water distribution supervisor Teddy Nester have been taking photos and making notes about various properties throughout the town with unruly grass, accumulating trash, or unsafe structures.
Under the ordinance, the two supervisors tagged the properties and contacted the owners with the request to rectify the problem.
According to Hannas, the two identified 39 properties that needed attention just in the first month of the identification program.
“Twenty-two complied, and 17 are here for you tonight to vote on,” he said.
Hannas then presented the information, including photos, of each property and the council members voted on them one-by-one.
“These properties have been tagged and to-date, they haven’t done anything with them,” mayor Damon Tillman said.
All but one of the 17 were approved for the first-time $250 fine. The only one not approved dealt with a heating system issue and the officials decided to wait to see if the problem is repaired before cold weather begins.
Once the property owners are notified of the fine, they have 10 days to pay it. If the fine is not paid and the property remains untouched, the fine increases to $500.
Hannas noted that some cleaned up their properties right away once they were first contacted, while others got a little more creative.
He mentioned one property owner who was cited for having trash piled up, and when the supervisors went back to see if it had been removed, “they had just put a tarp over it.”
Hannas told the mayor and council last week that there were more properties to be brought before them, but the deadline for compliance had not yet been reached.
Tillman noted that some residents may have circumstances that may cause difficulty in complying right away.
“If the people legitimately can’t get it cleaned up or can’t pay to have it done, they can come in and speak with us,” he said.
Tillman also noted that cleaning up properties was one of the issues which city residents had approached him and the council members about.
“This is something the people have been asking for, and we’re finally getting it done,” he said.