BELINGTON, W. Va. —Though not put on the agenda for first reading after being sent back by the Zoning Board of Appeals, the main discussion at Belington City Council’s meeting Thursday night was on the draft of a proposed “Occupancy and Entrance Permits” ordinance.

Council’s chambers filled with citizens and the meeting had to be moved upstairs to a larger space to accommodate the crowd.

Concerns ranged from the ambiguous wording in the draft, to whom the $25 permit fee would apply and other minimal requirements to be considered in compliance to the proposed ordinance.

One of the first questions council addressed was if current residents would have to apply for and hold a permit and pay a $25 dollar fee. According to council, the section under Occupancy which read “Any person, owner, or tenant occupying any property prior to the approval of this Belington Occupancy Permit shall come into compliance on or before [a year after the effective date after passage]” did not apply to current residents and they would not be monitored for compliance.

“Someone who’s already living here, I think, those folks, unless they’re on our list of having not paying their bills, we would assume that they are complying with the ordinance,” Max Grove, council member and author of the drafted ordinance said.

When asked about the wording of the draft not being clear, Grove responded “That wording then needs to be tweaked, right? Then that’s what the process is we’re going through right now and that’s why this should not have been out to the public at all. Probably, what I should have done was kept this on the computer and made all the tweaks over there.”

“If you’re going to read what I wrote originally and then back after I went back and made changes to that, so that I could present them to council with those changes, if you’re going to do that, then we’re never going to get an ordinance through,” he said. “Because you’re going to have them in here every week, every other week for the meeting.”

There was confusion among city council members as to if a document, draft or otherwise, is sent to a governmental board and is addressed in a public meeting –as was done with this draft by the Zoning Board of Appeals Wednesday– if that document can then be accessed by the public.

Changes had already been made to the draft with written notes on Grove’s copy of the draft which, among other things, allowed for the use of generators in a declared state of emergency and now also during a power outage which was not the fault of the landowner, changing the section under Property Maintenance pertaining to the demonstration of the ability and means to mow and trim grass and weeds to apply only when necessary and the correction of spelling errors.

As for the Zoning Board’s determination it could not rule on the ordinance, council said it was a miscommunication as they only requested the board look at the ordinance to detect any conflicts with existing zoning ordinances. For their concerns about the constitutionality of the bill based on information received from the city attorney, Grove said the opinion was based on a previous version of the ordinance.

“We had proposed an ordinance once before, I had written an ordinance once before that actually included the water as begin one item that we could withhold to get peole to pay their bill and they attorney comes back and says ‘You can’t do that, that’s unconstitutional.'”

Occupancy Permits issued with applications and fees currently are legal –in many municipalities in Pennsylvania, particularly– with Grove citing Monroeville, Pennsylvania as one inspiration for the intended purpose of Belington’s drafted ordinance.

The application, what Grove said was the one-time $25 fee and permit were targeted predominantly toward a certain demographic.

“We have to spend our money to put out these fires that slum landlords are creating by having people come in,” he said. “These people don’t contribute to the town at all. They pay no taxes, they come in and do [Housing and Urban Development programs] and sit on the couch and wait for their check.”

“We have an inherent culture of entitlement,” Grove said. “They’re coming from the other side of the mountain. They can not get HUD over in Virginia. They can’t get HUD there because they make too much money. They come here and qualify with a certificate, then they go back across the mountain and they can qualify over there.”

How the town would enforce the ordinance has not been determined as it was not addressed in the draft. Grove said enforcing the section regarding documentation of utility payments was a one-time occurrence as well.

“I think that’s called the honesty of the person, if they’re going to be honest about it,” he said. “But we’ll know if they don’t pay their [city] water bill, we’ll know if they’re not paying that one.”

As explained to them at city council’s meeting, a vocal majority called for the council to get rid of the ordinance all together and enforce the one’s currently in place which pertain to similar issues. Several council members said they would not vote for such an ordinance as drafted. Other citizens in attendance did take issues with a majority of the draft but did agree with some points.

“I do understand that certain ordinances have to be made so the town is cleaned up,” David Smith, Belington resident said. “The $25 fee? I have no problem with that. I really don’t, if it’s going to help enforce.”

Grove assured the language of the draft would be changed in further drafts and would not be put on the agenda until it addressed the public’s concerns and the wording reflected the council’s intent before going through three separate readings and a public hearing.

He estimated the ordinance could appear on first reading sometime in December.

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Comments

  • Black in Belington

    “Despite substantial progress made in eliminating discrimination in housing, we must continue to address the unfair practices that keep millions of "American families from owning their own homes. The doors to homeownership should not be shut on anyone because of skin color or their current place of residence”
    -Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Maryland),
    Chairman, Congressional Black Caucus

  • voter for bobby king

    Bobby has made this town a better place to live. He has rebuild houses & building that were falling in! He will have mine & my familys vote for mayor again!
    BOBBY KING FOR MAYOR.

  • Another Concerned Citizen

    Never in my life have i moved to a place where i had to pay anything other than Utilities and of course Rent. What i think ppl are forgetting about is that this is a" poor state" and Rent and utilities are usually cheaper here. If i didn't receive H.U.D where i used to live i would have been homeless, I always thought we were supposed to help others not make it harder to live and survive,by making the rich, richer and make the poor even more poor. and another thing if "Slumlords" would fix up their belongings
    they then could raise the rent and still make money without adding this stupid fee.

  • Margie

    its amazing that the same people have been on council for years now...I'm amazed Max is still there as he has been the architect of discontent and strife since he arrived. Bobby came in last place in an election that was voided by the good ol boys on a technicality, and somehow, someway, the next highest vote getter did not get seated when the winner conceded to keep the peace... Instead Bobby King, the last place vote getter, got re-seated on council by the good ol boys...and Max was one of those who allowed that to happen. max also gave inaccurate information to the press about that election. The good ole boys always perpetuate themselves because the voters let them.

  • Mr.P

    H.U.D.or Section 8 housing should be designated to only one county in WV that has the lowest population,H.U.D has did nothing but ruined small towns and cities though out the state by people that abuse the system who are able to work but instead rob,steal,and deal drugs to make their money,I say put them all together in one county and our state would be a lot safer and nicer place to live in.

  • Concerned for my way of life

    Does this mean I can't go shirtless in the Sheetz parking lot while smoking my Marlboros, chewing my redman, rubbing hagen, and drinking a Natty light anymore? Now what the hell am I suppose to do on Friday and Saturday nights?

  • Tammy King

    Using Monroeville, Pa as a model for an Ordinance is ridicules. That is a city with tens of thousands of citizens. HUD can be a fine program when implemented correctly. But those who brought this certain element to the city didn't give a" rat's you know what "about that.. Va. didn't mind when these people answered "the king's" ads. They were glad to rid their state of the likes of them. These were probably people who were on HUD or public assistance that have caused so much trouble but because of some stupid regulation they couldn't drop them from assistance. These people probably figured staying in Va. was too much of a hassle for them so they would come to WVa and start over again. They probably receive better benefits here too. As for Ole Bobby and others like him it's not his neighbors that he cares about, it's the bottom line, the cure all to end all.........their wallets.

  • Ashley B

    I live in belington,, have you guys took a look around and seen the mess that belington has become and getting worse? I agree that something needs to be done with all these trashy properties, ppl not paying their bills, not mowing their grass, having trash all over their yards! This place is beginning to look like a $hit town! Now the mayor has all these trashy properties that he's advertising in virginia and moving ppl that don't belong here to here! I'm sorry but if I wanted to live in the ghetto then I'd move to the ghetto! But I want to live in my little country town where everyone knows your name and who your family is!! It makes me extremely upset that mr bobby king aka mayor, doesn't take care of his properties then doesn't want to rent to the locals so he goes moving in more trash! Some ppl need HUD and those that need it in belington should b able to have a HUD house in belington!! Jesus take care of yours before you go helpin out other counties!! For the ppl that don't pay their bills ,, sorry bout your luck but shut it off!! I belive in the good ol days of belington n I can see what belington is going to be like by next summer! Our kids won't even be able to go outside and play bc of the ppl that has moved into these rentals that r from out of the state! Way to go stupid!

    • Tammy King

      Your right Ashley and it is sad for those who have lived there for decades. Now their properties are about worthless due to the trash. Don't think "the King" is doing this to help anybody. Only thing he is interested in is helping his bank acct. grow and doesn't care what the citizen think. Has made this known in different conversations.

  • DWM

    Since when is it wrong to expect people to pay their share of the services they use? How is that discriminatory?

  • Harpers Ferry

    Sounds like Max Groves is some sort of Grand Wizard. When's the next rally in Belington? Don't forget to bleach those white sheets!

  • kc61

    Wait til the word gets out - they'll be coming from Detroit and you'll end up with a mess like Huntington has. No one wants to rent to "HUD" recipients and it's with good reason.

    • susanf1218

      Good point! But the bleeding heart liberals don't see it that way. Of course, they may be in line for HUD housing themselves.

      • Tammy King

        They are not "bleeding heart liberals" nothing they do is charitable. The only people they want to help are themselves by using those people to enhance their own financial situation. Max doesn't realize that playing the "goodguy/badguy" game by himself just doesn't work. If this ordinance passes he will just continue renting his unlivable properties to these people. The city will win because of the fees and fines they pay. Max will win cause he doesn't have to pay the fines or fees but will still collect his money from the government program regardless. It is his and his cronies fault their here to start with. Yes they should try to be good neighbors despite the deplorable conditions in which they live and bad behavior should not be tolerated.

        • susanf1218

          Tammy, I don't think you and I are in disagreement at all! I believe that people should be required to maintain their properties, whether they are privately owned or rentals. And I don't think that it is right to bring HUD families in from outside the area, especially when the motive is pure greed. It happens elsewhere too - I have heard about and seen the same situation in Elkins and Parsons and other small towns as well. I don't know any of the people who are involved in this proposal; I just agree with the concept. I am amazed that so many people apparently think that it should be their "right" to do whatever they want to on their properties regardless of how it impacts their neighbors. If you lived out in the middle of nowhere with acres of your own land surrounding you, then maybe. But not when you have nearby neighbors and your actions negatively affect their property values It is too bad that Belington has fallen into decline - it could be a nice little bedroom community for people who work in Elkins or Buckhannon or Philippi, but no one is going to want to move there if they know their neighbors can do whatever they want or they might have HUD housing right next door to them.