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City no closer to legal action in chemical spill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The city of Charleston is no closer to taking legal action related to the Jan. 9 chemical spill that left 300,000 people in the Kanawha Valley without potable drinking water, Mayor Danny Jones said after Monday night's City Council meeting.

Last week, Jones announced at a Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau board meeting the city hired two law firms for a potential lawsuit -- DiTrapano, Barrett, DiPiero, McGinley & Simmons, as well as Forbes Law Offices. While the CVB board issued its support for legal action during the same meeting, Jones said Monday no other city entities have joined. Jones said he hopes the Civic Center will get involved.

"I'm not a lawyer, but I am looking at future damages this has done to our brand," Jones said.

Council members Monday approved a lease for 1,600 of space at 601 Morris St. to the West Virginia University Board of Governors on behalf of WVU. The university will rent the space beginning Feb. 17 for $2,520 per month for five years. It will have the option to renew the lease for two additional 5-year periods, as well.

In other business, council:

* Voted to rezone a parcel of land at the corner of 27th Street and Washington Street West from a residential district to a commercial district. Mountaineer Gas purchased that parcel and land adjacent to it in order to relocate its Stockton Street Service Center. The land adjacent to the parcel in question is zoned for commercial use.

* Changed a municipal zoning ordinance so child care and adult day care facilities are no longer required to be "accessory" uses. Those facilities no longer have to be associated with another entity such as a school or church to be located in areas zoned for residential offices.

* Authorized $727,000 for a three-year lease purchase period and $755,000 for a five-year lease purchase period with Suntrust Equipment Finance Leasing to fund the purchase of police cars and equipment for city departments.

* Approved an agreement between the city and Suddenlink for telephone and Internet service for the Charleston Civic Center. The city will pay $1,400 per month for phones and $700 per month for 20 megabytes of Internet for a one-year period. There is a two-year automatic renewal of the contract. While the city advertised for bidders publicly, it received none.

* Voted to disperse funds from the Governor's Highway Safety Grant for in-car cameras for the Charleston Police Department at a cost of $30,000. Funds totaling $10,000 will be used for a high school distracted driving campaign.

* Devoted $25,000 from the state's Division of Energy Local Efficiency Energy Grant Program for educational activities that focus on energy efficiency awareness for residents and businesses.

* Approved a lease agreement between the city and Pitney Bowes for a mail machine and meter equipment. The lease is month-to-month for one year and will cost the city $329 per month.

Reach Rachel Molenda at rachel.molenda@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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