Piedmont council wants debris off sidewalks

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Piedmont City Hall

PIEDMONT - Although the Piedmont City Council voted recently not to pursue the “zombie property” ordinance at this time, they may be taking some smaller steps toward getting their town cleaned up.

Council member Terry LaRue has been researching the town’s ordinances, and came up with one that states the city’s sidewalks, although owned by the city, are to be maintained by the adjacent property owner.

Normally that refers to snow removal and repairing cracks, but LaRue feels that ordinance can be tweaked a bit to include keeping the sidewalks free of debris and overgrowth.

“We have a lot of people who are storing things on the streets,” he said. “I know of at least seven properties on the hill that’s using the sidewalk to store ladders and everything else.

“What I’m suggesting … I think we can tweak this ordinance to include … that there is to be nothing on the sidewalk. The junk needs to be removed … so people can walk up and down the streets.”

The proposed amendment would include overgrown trees and shrubs as well.

City clerk Carrie Lewis noted that one property in particular that has allowed overgrowth is creating a safety hazard for motorists who can’t see to pull out onto the street.

The town has been dealing with unsightly and blighted properties for years. During their July 7 meeting, however, the mayor and council decided not to pursue the “Zombie Property” law passed earlier this year by the West Virginia Legislature because it would necessitate the town hiring a code enforcement officer.

“Right now, we can’t afford to pay a compliance officer,” LaRue said.

Wednesday, however, LaRue said amending the sidewalk ordinance could be a good start toward eventually being able to clean up or eliminate some of the eyesores in town.

LaRue said under the ordinance letters would be sent to property owners found to be in violation, and if they did not comply within 30 days, “we’ll have one of the police officers issue a citation.”

Penalty for first-time violation would be $100.

LaRue will prepare the proposed amendment to the ordinance and bring it to the next council meeting, scheduled for Aug. 4 at noon.

Liz Beavers is managing editor of the Mineral Daily News Tribune and can be reached at lbeavers@newstribune.info