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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 6, 2022 03:23 PM
From: Representative Karen Boback
To: All House members
Subject: County Property Maintenance
In the near future I will be introducing legislation that will allow counties to enact and enforce property maintenance codes when municipalities do not have the means to tackle the job on their own.

By way of background, we know that local code enforcement is critical to maintaining safe neighborhoods as well as protecting property values. However, there are municipalities, particularly in rural areas, that do not have property maintenance ordinances or code enforcement employees. Complaints of ramshackle properties, missing landlords, vacated buildings overtaken by vermin or stray animals, and the dumping of appliances and abandoned tanks (that ultimately leech into water supplies) have created headaches for municipal officials. These are instances where the hiring of a zoning and/or enforcement officer as well as the possibility for legal ramifications can be cost-prohibitive. The potential to rectify this on a county level has been brought to my attention by several commissioners and township supervisors who have suggested that the problems of blight, when not addressed on a municipal level, would be handled by the county. Similar legislation has been enacted in the state of West Virginia.

Therefore, my bill will amend the County Code to grant special powers and duties to counties. Under my legislation, a county (under the guise of its commissioners or governing body) will be allowed to enact a property maintenance ordinance to help ensure the health and safety of its residents as well as those who want to safeguard the value of their property.  Notice of consideration on the ordinance must be published and the public will have access to the proposal before a county could enact it.

Counties that adopt a property maintenance ordinance will have enforcement power, including the ability to levy fines when properties are in violation of the ordinance. Enforcement will be accomplished through the appointment of property maintenance inspectors. All fines paid for violations will be paid to the County Treasurer.

Under my bill, counties may not enforce property maintenance ordinances in a municipality that has an ordinance which is already being enforced. Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation. 

Introduced as HB2555