BELLAIRE - Sonya Shreve is hoping today she still has a house.
According to Marla Krupnik, the village's deputy clerk who has been handling the demolition filings and paperwork for the village, she won't.
Krupnik stated that the house was contracted to come down after a June 4 council meeting and that a company was contracted for the demolition work and today is the day.
THIS HOUSE on?Harrison Street in?Bellaire has triggered controversy on whether it should be razed. At left is how the house looked when purchased by Sonya Shreve of Moundsville in?October of 2011. Some of the renovation work is pictured in right photo.
Shreve, who currently resides in Moundsville, purchased the long-vacant home at 4172 Harrison St. in Bellaire back in October of 2011.
At that point, she applied and received a 1-year permit from the Village of Bellaire, signed by then code enforcer Jim Chase. The permit expires Oct. 20, 2012.
Shreve admits the house has required a lot of work and it isn't done yet. But she's made considerable and noticeable progress toward getting it ready to live in.
Upon completion, she does intend to live in the residence. She currently has many of her possessions in the house, along with two family pets who are fed and cared for daily while she performs the repairs and updates.
Then in May, Shreve received a 60-day "abate the nuisance" notice from the village, stating that repairs needed to be made or the structure would have to be abandoned and would be torn down. In the notice, Shreve was notified of her 15 days to appeal.
That she did, appealing before village council, not once, but twice.
The first time was at the second May meeting. Shreve had brought a poster board with 8 x 10 pictures of the progress made on the house. She was on the docket to speak but was informed of a meeting to discuss her issue and never got the opportunity to speak in front of council.
Shreve returned for the June 4 meeting, but her situation was discussed as part of the two-hour long executive session.
"At first they asked me questions about how long it would take to get this done, that done, and other things," Shreve recalled. "Then, (mayor) Vince (DiFabrizio) decides that he didn't think I could get it done and asked to have a vote to demolish the structure. It was motioned, seconded and passed."
According to Ohio Sunshine Laws, said vote should not have taken place during the executive session.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's Website has detailed information about Sunshine Laws. In the writings on the matter, it states ...
"Executive sessions may be held for only a few specific purposes. No votes may be taken or decisions made on the matter(s) discussed during the executive session. Members would have to reconvene their public meeting and then openly conduct a vote."
No explanation of the vote of Shreve's property was mentioned after council returned from executive session.
During the meeting, Shreve said DiFabrizio presented a signed letter from then-village code enforcer Chase, dated April 4, stating that the property, in Chase's opinion, was a nuisance to the community.
However, Shreve recalled and Chase himself confirmed his resignation was effective April 2.
"She had a permit to work on the house until Oct. 20 I believe of 2012," Chase said. "She had permission to work on the house and everything was being done right. She was making progress. There is a lot of work to do.
"Why tear down a house of someone who is trying to fix a house up to something good when you have M&R on Belmont St. which is very dangerous and they are permitting to have the condemned signs on M&R removed."
According to Krupnik, the 1-year permit was not legal. Rather, an initial 30-day permit should have been issued and then 30-day extension could have been issue depending on the progress.
Shreve stated that the report from inspector Ed Hess explained that gutters were hanging down, there was not enough clearance between her house and the neighboring structures; the house was a fire hazard, the rear of the house was not sealed up, etc.
Shreve stated all the matters that were addressed in the inspection report have been handled.
The back of the house has been sided and sealed. A door is now used for entrance when before, while work was being done, a large tarp covered the back of the house.
There is still work to be done, but Shreve said all issues have been addressed, long before the deadline set by the letter from the village.
"From what I was told, the paperwork I have and the law and city ordinances, I have until July 5-6 to abate the nuisance that was set forth," Shreve said. "Now I've learned that my house may be set to be demolished (today)."
Krupnik, however, explained that Hess' report was that the house was unsafe and needed to come down. He felt it was beyond repair. She said Shreve knew of the time she was given to vacate the property and can't understand why she's now still working on the house.
Shreve did say that she spoke with someone from the company contracted to do the demo work who told her the house is already contracted to be torn down. She also heard that today is the demo date, although she admitted that was only what she heard, not official word from the village.
After the second council meeting, Shreve said her attorney drafted and sent a letter to the village that stated:
"Even though you had her belongings having to be out within 14 days, she feels she can abate the nuisance within her 30-day time period. She would like the opportunity to do that. Per Bellaire city ordinance, if it is not taken care of, she does understand the house would be demolished."
Shreve has a copy of her 1-year permit attached to the front door of her house and is considering attaching a copy of the response letter from her attorney.
She just hopes that when she shows up to work on the house today that there is still a house standing to work on.
Hughes may be reached at email@example.com