One citation enforced, six dismissed on Naik sites

Parkersburg Fire Chief Jason Matthews, left, talks with Naik properties representative Sunny Naik on the second floor of the Municipal Building following a hearing before Municipal Court Judge Debra Steed Monday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — One citation was enforced and half a dozen others dismissed Monday as city officials continue to monitor efforts to improve buildings owned by the Naik group of companies.

Sunny Naik, a representative for the Naik properties, appeared in Parkersburg Municipal Court Monday evening, along with Parkersburg Fire Chief Jason Matthews, to update Municipal Judge Debra Steed on the progress of work at eight buildings in the city used in the Naiks’ recycling and plastics storage businesses. Matthews issued 20 citations of fire code violations in December stemming from inspections prompted by the October 2017 fire that destroyed a Naik facility, Intercontinental Export and Import Plastics, on Camden Avenue, just outside city limits.

Matthews and Steed have held off enforcing a number of the citations as Naik representatives have made efforts to correct the problems.

But on Monday, Steed enforced a citation on the building at 814 Jeanette St., where two of six sprinkler systems remain out of service. At a June 10 hearing, she gave Naik until Monday’s date to have those two sprinklers converted to dry systems, which has not been completed.

The fine for the violation is $187.

Parkersburg Municipal Court Judge Debra Steed, right, listens as Fire Chief Jason Matthews, left, discusses the status of improvements being made to address fire code violations at properties owned by the Naik group of companies Monday. Also pictured is Municipal Court supervisor Dan Huffman. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“The timeline is what it is,” Naik said after the hearing. “They’ve got to enforce tickets.”

Two additional citations remain for 814 Jeanette St. — one dealing with the need for clear aisles and exits and another for the inspection of the fire alarm system. Naik said employees will continue to work on cleaning up and clearing material in the building. Matthews said he was prioritizing sprinkler systems over the fire alarms, most of which sound alerts when the sprinklers are activated.

Naik also said there are contracted fire watches in place at all buildings without working fire alarms, as required by the state after the initial round of inspections.

“We do have 24-hour security that monitors the building,” he said.

Steed dismissed six citations Monday, including one related to the disposal of hazardous material at the Atlas Steel and Green Sustainable Solutions complex at 625 Depot St. She had set Monday as the deadline to have a plastic material, called sparger, removed from that building as heated conditions cause the substance to give off an odor that acts as an irritant.

Naik properties representative Sunny Naik listens during a hearing before Parkersburg Municipal Court Judge Debra Steed on the progress being made to address fire code violations at Naik properties in the city. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“I’m so glad to hear that,” Steed said when Matthews confirmed the material had been removed a couple of weeks ago. “That was probably our most serious violation.”

Steed also dismissed a citation on improperly maintained aisles within the Depot Street facility after Matthews said progress was being made.

In June, she enforced a citation for sprinkler systems at Depot Street not being inspected and tested. Matthews issued a new citation the next day for the same violation, this one carrying a potential $487 penalty because of a change in court guidelines.

Naik said he’s finalizing a contract to repair about 45 percent of the building’s roof. Fixing the five out of 17 sprinkler systems that aren’t working would be futile until the roof issues are corrected, he said, since they would likely be damaged again.

Steed asked if the work would be done by the next scheduled hearing date of Aug. 19.

“I would at least like to have the roof well started by that date,” he said.

Steed dismissed all three citations on 821 Jeanette St. Employees have added a door to address the need for an additional exit, and Matthews said the block building has been emptied of material, rendering citations over the lack of a sprinkler and clear aisleways moot.

If the building is put to use again, the need for a sprinkler system would be reassessed, Matthews said.

The last remaining citation, for maintenance of aisles and exits, at the Naik facility at 835 Jeanette St. was also dismissed based on progress made.

“There’s no dead-end corridors,” Matthews said.

Steed questioned Naik about a building without working sprinklers at the Gateman Drive complex off 29th Street. He said the building in question is used only for storage and plastic material is being removed from it.

“We’re looking at demolishing that entire building,” Naik said. “In a short-term action, we can try to get the rest of the material out.”

“Can you have that done by Aug. 19?” Steed said. “If not, I’ll enforce that ticket.”

Naik said he expected the rest of the material could be out by then.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com