BELLAIRE - Sonya Shreve's house at 4172 Harrison St. in Bellaire is still standing.
Shreve's battle with Village of Bellaire officials took a momentary turn in her favor during Thursday's council meeting.
After hearing from both Shreve and her nephew, Chip Ghent, a respected officer with the Martins Ferry Police Department, council voted to allow Shreve's house to be re-evaluated by building inspector Ed Hess, with an update to be given at the July 19 council meeting.
Shreve had been staying at the Bellaire house while performing renovations for the last two weeks because she was unsure if the next day was to be the day the wrecking ball came crashing through her home.
June 25 was the original targeted demolition date.
"She doesn't know where she is at and is worried about her house going down," said Ghent, telling council members that he has assisted Shreve in renovation work since she obtained the property in October 2011. "Everything that was listed as a nuisance has been abated ... you can see how much work has been done.
"But she's been unable to go to work and missed a job interview because she's had to stay at the house to make sure it wasn't demolished."
Shreve's previous appeal was conducted during an executive session, and there were discrepancies between Shreve and village officials as to whether she was granted a period of time to abate the nuisance or whether the house had to come down, regardless of the work being done.
This time, the appeal, along with two other homes, was conducted during open session.
Ed Sustercic, the village solicitor, stated that the village is mainly interested in getting the nuisance abated and is all for people being able to renovate if they can.
Shreve stated Saturday that Hess showed up at her house Friday afternoon for the scheduled re-inspection. According to Shreve, Hess gave the OK on the outside work that was performed in response to the issues raised in the "Abate the Nuisance" letter from the village.
Matters may have been complicated further, however, when Shreve declined to allow Hess to inspect the home's interior.
Shreve said the reason she did not allow Hess into the home was because the original notice from the village didn't list any issues with the inside. In fact, Hess didn't even inspect the inside of the home during his initial inspection.
Hess left and returned 10 minutes later with a Bellaire police officer. Shreve told Hess that, without a warrant, he wasn't coming into the home. Both Hess and the officer left.
Shreve then tried to contact her attorney about the situation but has yet to hear back.
"I can't keep going back to council meeting after meeting and getting a new list of things to fix," Shreve said. "This inspection was to make sure the items on the notice were taken care of and they were."
Michael Finicum appealed to council about a similar situation about a property he owned.
Finicum had detailed plans of different options he had for renovation or use of his property, depending on council's wishes.
Hess recalled for council from his inspection about the poor state of the home's structure.
Finicum, a mechanical engineer, has a plan to make the building structurally sound and outlined it for council. His preferred plan is to utilize the home for storage purposes, noting that no one will be living in or renting the building. If that wasn't approved, he was going to have the structure torn down and build a garage for storage on the site.
He asked for 90 days to get the structure ready and that if he was unable to do so, it would be torn down. He also requested that in the agreement, if the renovations are completed that the village can't turn around and request it still come down.
That agreement met council's approval and a motion passed 5-0 to give Finicum the go-ahead.
Edward Anderson met with council about his property at 1731 Guernsey St., seeking a permit to renovate the house as it too is on the demolition list.
Anderson stated his plan is to fix up and seal off the upstairs while living in the downstairs. Anderson did not have any printed plans or drawings detailing his proposal.
Sustercic said that he has until the next council meeting to submit his plans to Hess in order to show his ideas for the house are doable before a permit can be issued.
Hughes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org