AG orders Clarksburg to halt code enforcement
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office has ordered Clarksburg to stop enforcing its building codes following a complaint filed by the state Fire Commission against the city’s code enforcement office.
The complaint alleged that the city’s building codes are unlawful and that code enforcement officers are uncertified. The complaint also alleged that the city targeted specific property owners, and that some officials used public funds to enrich themselves and others, The Exponent Telegram reported.
The complaint consolidates seven formal complaints received by the Fire Commission between Dec. 19, 2013, and May 20.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen R. Connolly sent a letter dated Tuesday to the mayor ordering the city to immediately cease all building code enforcement until it adopts a current version of the state building code, or until the outcome of the complaints.
City agents have retaliated against property owners since the Fire Commission filed its complaint, revoking building permits without valid stop work orders and “generally continuing to engage in violation of the state building code,” Connolly alleged in the letter.
The Attorney General’s Office is the Fire Commission’s legal representative.
City Manager Martin Howe declined to comment to the newspaper, saying he hadn’t received a copy of the letter yet.
The Fire Commission directed the Attorney General’s Office in September 2013 to evaluate the city’s building code, based on complaints filed with the commission, the Governor’s Office, the Fire Marshal’s Office and the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, according to the commission’s complaint.
The investigation found that the city adopted ordinances exceeding statutory authority and failed to comply with notification requirements stipulated in the state building code. Code enforcement officers either misrepresented their credentials or conducted inspections while uncertified, the commission’s complaint alleged.
The city is still responsible for public safety, despite the cease-and-desist order, Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman Lawrence Messina said.
“The city should react by forming ordinances to comply with state law,” Messina told the newspaper.
Clarksburg’s code enforcement activities are also the subject of two federal lawsuits.