Parkersburg URA approves affordable housing plan

Votes to acquire, sell various properties

Parkersburg Development Director Rickie Yeager, right, addressed the city’s Urban Renewal Authority, made up of all nine members of Parkersbug City Council, during a meeting Tuesday at the Municipal Building. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — The Urban Renewal Authority on Tuesday authorized a budget and timeline for an affordable housing initiative using modular homes.

The construction of three modular homes is expected to cost $450,000, with a 10 percent contingency added to make the budget $495,000, according to documents provided to the authority, which consists of all nine members of Parkersburg City Council.

Due to a shortage in timber and backlog in projects, plus the administrative requirements for the project, it likely would not be completed until September 2021.

The authority voted in July to focus on manufactured homes as a way of saving money on the program, which was originally projected to cost $593,020, including acquisition of some of the property.

On Tuesday, Development Director Rickie Yeager said the staff recommended modular homes over mobile homes, because the former could be financed and insured more easily, like traditional “stick-built” structures.

Parkersburg City Councilman Jeff Fox, left, speaks during an Urban Renewal Authority meeting Tuesday at the Municipal Building as, clockwise from top, City Clerk Connie Shaffer, Councilman Zach Stanley and Councilman J.R. Carpenter listen. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

As part of the initiative, the authority has executed a letter of intent to purchase 1115 and 1115 1/2 E. 12th St. and 908 15th St. for a total of $7,000 from owner Harold Johnson and accept 804 and 806 19th St. from Johnson as a donation. The side-by-side parcels will be combined, making the three sites for the proposed houses.

“Are these truly the best places to develop these homes?” Councilman Jeff Fox asked.

Yeager said that while all sites have challenges, the city is obligated to build affordable housing units on those because they are being acquired with federal HOME dollars.

“That’s our priority; those are the top three,” he said.

The budget and timeline were approved on an 8-1 vote, with Fox opposed.

In other business, the authority voted 9-0 to accept a $96,000 offer on a house at 514 13 1/2 St., which the city constructed in the mid-2000s through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The house has been vacant for about a year after it reverted to the city through a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

The offer met the asking price for the property, Yeager said.

The URA voted unanimously to acquire 1409 20th St. via eminent domain to demolish the structure there. Mayor Tom Joyce said the owner has cooperated with the Building Enforcement Agency but has been unable to address the issues.

Councilman J.R. Carpenter asked if acquiring this property would prevent other blighted sites from being demolished. Yeager said there is money in the budget to fund the acquisition but funds would have to be allocated for demolition.

“The reality of it is, eminent domain’s going to take at least six months,” Joyce said. “It could be next budget cycle before we get to it.”

A resolution to execute a contract to acquire and demolish houses at 1120 and 1122 Lynn St. for the fair market value of $8,000 passed 9-0. Yeager said both structures have multiple code violations and the city would likely seek to consolidate the lots into one.

The authority unanimously accepted offers to purchase property it owns at 823 14th St. and 1308 Dillaway St. for $1,000 each. Neighboring owners wanted to add those vacant lots to their own.

Citing the approximately $16,417.80 the city spent to acquire the 14th Street site and demolish the house on it, Carpenter made a motion to counter that offer with a $2,500 asking price. That was rejected on a 7-2 vote.

“If you look at it, the assessed value’s $1,200,” Councilman Zach Stanley said.

An offer of $300 from a neighbor for a lot at 1322 Oak St. was met with a counter of $1,000 from the URA after a 5-4 vote. Councilwoman Sharon Kuhl was among those voting against the motion, saying she did not believe the prospective buyer’s house was in compliance with city code requirements involving gutters.

“I don’t think it’s our job to do that. I don’t think we’re qualified to do that,” Councilman John Reed said, suggesting that concerns like that should be referred to code enforcement instead.

The URA voted 9-0 to accept the donation of 1113 Latrobe St., where a house was burned in March in a fire ruled as arson, and a dilapidated property at 4110 13th St. Both acceptances are contingent upon some title issues being addressed.

They rejected a motion, 5-4, to accept a vacant, vegetation-covered lot on Green Street Extension. Reed said it might give the city an opportunity to address issues with the homeless population in that area, but he was in the minority voting for the item.


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