Summers County Planning Commission Discusses Property Maintenance Codes

The Summers County Planning Commission met on Wednesday, Aug. 25 to continue the ongoing discussion of implementing countywide property maintenance codes. After confirming the establishment of a quorum and approving the finance report and previous meeting’s minutes, the commission quickly turned to the matter at hand.

As it currently stands, Summers County does not have an established zoning ordinance or property maintenance codes. In the recent past, the city of Hinton adopted a property maintenance code based on the International Property Maintenance Code. The commission is considering the implementation of something similar for the entire county.

The International Property Maintenance Code is essentially, a model code that is used to regulate the minimum requirements for the maintenance of existing buildings. It also establishes the minimum standards for basic building equipment such as heating, ventilation, light and sanitation.

While one of the considerations for implementing a property maintenance code is to eliminate dilapidated structures, several additional considerations were raised during the meeting. The primary concerns related back to the need for a zoning ordinance. Chief among the discussion was the recent influx of new campgrounds in the county.

As discussions continued, the commission decided to form a committee to research property maintenance codes and similar regulations within neighboring counties. This committee will take an in-depth look at how surrounding counties are handling this particular issue, seeing what is or is not working.

One of the biggest concerns with establishing a zoning ordinance and property maintenance code is staffing. It will be necessary to have personnel dedicated to these issues including enforcement of new codes and someone to manage the daily operation. Unfortunately, this will require finding the funding for these positions.

The Summers County Planning Commission will meet again in October to see what the newly established committee has been able to determine. After this point, the commission may increase its meeting rate from quarterly to bi-monthly until the zoning ordinance/property maintenance code discussion concludes.

After some additional discussion, matters turned to new business with only one item brought up. This was the need to fill a recent opening within the Planning Commission. This too will be further discussed at the October meeting.

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