Abandoned Buildings and Houses a Priority in Raleigh County

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A high number of abandoned buildings and houses is causing concern for public officials.

Now the Raleigh County Abandoned and Dilapidated Building Enforcement Agency is taking action. 

Lee Leftwich is a former councilman who was born and raised in Beckley. For the last three years, he has lived next to an abandoned house on South Fayette Street. 

Leftwich says the house has been empty since police arrested the tenant there for operating a meth lab. 

“It was March of 2013, and now it’s March 10th of 2016, and the house is still here,” Leftwich tells 59News. “So yes, there’s still emotional stress on me just to know what could have happened. And my bedroom is right adjacent to it. The gentleman was making it in the basement. I smelled it. It was coming in my house. So yes it has a very emotional effect on me, yes.”

Raleigh County Abandoned Dilapidated Building Enforcement Agency president, Sherrie Hunter wants to help citizens in the county like Leftwich. 

She says Raleigh County is one of the only counties in the state that has an ordinance addressing abandoned buildings and houses. Hunter tells us the number of abandoned buildings and houses in the county is in the hundreds. 

But the county Abandoned and Dilapidated Building Enforcement Agency has plans in the works to demolish or renovate as many of them as it can within the next year. 

“We have a list of buildings that have been addressed,” Hunter says. “And then those will be taken care of one at a time in the priority that it deserves.”

Hunter says a high volume of abandoned houses and buildings are not just in Raleigh County. It’s an issue across the entire nation. 

Even with public officials like Hunter working to solve the abandoned house and building issue in Raleigh County, Leftwich says it’s ultimately up to the community. 

“It’s up to us,” Leftwich says. “It’s up to the individuals that live here to make it happen. And so if everybody works together and everybody does a little piece to clean up, then some of the abandoned houses that we have can be fixed up. People will move into them, which is happening at a slow pace, but like I said it’ll be picked up.”

If there is an abandoned house or building in your neighborhood of Raleigh County, Hunter is encouraging home owners to file a complaint by calling the county commission or visiting their website. 

Follow Joe Putrelo on Twitter @Joe_Putrelo.

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