A group of Davis citizens is working to update the town’s BAD Building Ordinance. The group, BAD Buildings Group, is specifically targeting the building on Williams Ave. that was once the Highlander Hotel.
Before action can take place on abandoned properties in town, Davis must update their BAD Building Ordinance.
According to wvbadbuidlings.org, BAD stands for “Brownfield, Abandoned, Dilapidated. BAD buildings are structures and properties that are vacant, uninhabited and in a state of disrepair, whose owner is taking no active steps to bring the property back into functional use.”
As defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a brownfield is a “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”
The West Virginia BAD Buildings Group surveyed Davis’ abandoned and neglected buildings. With a set of criteria to rank the various neglected properties on priority, the old Highlander building, next to Davis River Front Park, ranked at the top of the priority list.
If the BAD Building Ordinance is updated, the town will be able to move forward on corrective actions against dilapidated buildings. The current owners of the Williams Ave. property did not respond to inquiries about their intention with the property.
To help facilitate the process of updating the ordinance and taking action against unsightly buildings, the BAD Buildings Group is relying on a legal toolkit to help walk them through the process of addressing abandoned properties.
“From Liability to Viability: A Legal Toolkit to Address Neglected Properties in West Virginia” was published in 2015 by the West Virginia University Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic. This toolkit gives towns and municipalities throughout the state a thorough step-by-step breakdown of how to take action against abandoned and neglected properties.
The toolkit introduction states, “Across West Virginia, communities struggle with dilapidated, abandoned, and neglected properties. As many as 1 in 16 properties in West Virginia are vacant or abandoned. The quantity of dilapidated properties can seem overwhelming, but West Virginia communities are sharing and developing innovative strategies to successfully tackle these problem properties. In order to further enable revitalization efforts, this toolkit details legal strategies to address neglected properties.”
A presentation to the Davis Town Council is the first order of business. The council must decide whether to update the ordinance or not. The old ordinance is out of date and no longer in compliance with state law. The presentation is scheduled for the next Davis Town Hall meeting on January 24 at 6:30 p.m.