The owner of a house at 125 1/2 14th St. that has partially collapsed twice pleaded innocent to owning a home in violation of building codes, but a deal may be worked out before a Sept. 25 trial.
Mary Littleton, who lives with a relative in Moundsville, said she purchased the property for $400 from a friend but had no idea how poor its condition was when she bought it.
Prior to a hearing Wednesday before Municipal Judge Don Nickerson, Littleton said she felt she had been ''conned into'' purchasing the house. She said she wanted the home because she's never had one of her own.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Remnants of this house on 14th Street will stand until a decision is made to repair or raze it, its owner said.
''It was my dream. ... I was planning on doing it, but I can't get my money back ... ,'' Littleton said of fixing up the house.
About three weeks ago, a rear portion of the house collapsed. On Saturday, another part collapsed and firefighters were called to the scene.
Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms said after checking out the structure himself, he agrees with Building Codes Official Tom Wilson that the property is not an imminent threat to anyone in the neighborhood.
''It's not an immediate danger,'' Helms said, noting it does not appear the building will fall into any neighboring structures.
On Saturday, however, that's what residents of an adjacent apartment building said they feared would happen. One resident, Linda Scott, said she had complained to the city about the building several times in the past three years.
Helms said it looks as though the back half of the building, which is the portion that collapsed, was an addition to the original home. The rest of the building appears to be stable, he said.
During the hearing, Nickerson told Littleton that if she pleaded guilty she would have to either raze or repair the building. If she pleaded innocent, a trial date would be set and the city would have to bring evidence to support its charges.
''Talking would spur things just as much as having a trial,'' Nickerson noted.
After the hearing, Wilson and Littleton went to Wilson's office to talk about Littleton's options and to come up with a plan before the trial date.