Introduced Version House Bill 4156 History

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H. B. 4156

(By Delegates Morgan, Craig, Palumbo, Klempa,
Hutchins and Higgins)
[Introduced January 23, 2008; referred to the

Committee on Political Subdivisions then Government Organization.]

A BILL to amend and reenact §8-12-16 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to permitting the governing body of a municipality to place a lien on property in an amount equal to the demolition and removal costs of a hazardous structure.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That §8-12-16 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:

§8-12-16. Ordinances regulating the repair, closing, demolition, etc., of dwellings or buildings unfit for human habitation; procedures.

(a) Plenary power and authority are hereby conferred upon every municipality to adopt ordinances regulating the repair, alteration or improvement, or the vacating and closing or removal or demolition, or any combination thereof, of any dwellings or other buildings unfit for human habitation due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazard of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities or any other conditions prevailing in any dwelling or building, whether used for human habitation or not, which would cause such dwellings or other buildings to be unsafe, unsanitary, dangerous or detrimental to the public safety or welfare.
(b) The governing body in formally adopting such the ordinances shall designate the enforcement agency, which shall consist of the mayor, the municipal engineer or building inspector and one member at large, to be selected by and to serve at the will and pleasure of the mayor. The ranking health officer and fire chief shall serve as ex officio members of such the enforcement agency.
(c) Any ordinance adopted pursuant to the provisions of this section shall provide fair and equitable rules of procedure and any other standards deemed necessary to guide the enforcement agency, or its agents, in the investigation of dwelling or building conditions, and in conducting hearings: Provided, That any entrance upon premises for the purpose of making examinations shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
(d) The governing body of every municipality shall have plenary power and authority to adopt an ordinance requiring the owner or owners of any dwelling or building under determination of the State Fire Marshal, as provided in section twelve, article three, chapter twenty-nine of this code, or under order of the enforcement agency of the municipality, to pay for the costs of repairing, altering or improving, or of vacating and closing, removing or demolishing any dwelling or building. Every municipality shall also have the right to file a lien against the real property in question for an amount not to exceed the assessed value of the property as recorded in the office of the county assessor, or that reflects all costs of demolition and removal, and to institute a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction against the landowner or other responsible party for all costs incurred by the municipality with respect to the property and for reasonable attorney fees and court costs incurred in the prosecution of the action.
(e) Not less than ten days prior to instituting a civil action as provided for in this section, the governing body of the municipality shall send notice to the landowner by certified mail, return receipt requested, advising the landowner of the governing body's intention to institute such action.
(f) The notice shall be sent to the most recent address of the landowner of record in the office of the assessor of the county where the subject property is located. If, for any reason, such certified mail is returned without evidence of proper receipt thereof, then in such event, the governing body shall cause a Class III-0 legal advertisement to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county wherein the subject property is located and post notice on the front door or other conspicuous location on the subject property.
(g) In the event any landowner desires to contest any demand brought forth pursuant to this section, the landowner may seek relief in a court of competent jurisdiction.
(h) All orders issued by the enforcement agency shall be served in accordance with the law of this state concerning the service of process in civil actions, and shall, in addition thereto, be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order: Provided, That no ordinance shall may be adopted without providing therein for the right to apply to the circuit court for a temporary injunction restraining the enforcement agency pending final disposition of the cause.
(i) In the event such application is made, a hearing thereon shall be had within twenty days, or as soon thereafter as possible, and the court shall enter such final order or decree as the law and justice may require.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to permit the governing body of a municipality to place a lien on property in an amount equal to the demolition and removal of a hazardous structure.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.
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