Petrolia Fires Not in LIne with City Code

Controlled-burn fires set in Petrolia were not in line with city code. According to documents obtained in an open records request, at least one property owner was not given proper notification.

The issues stems from the burning of four structures on Aug. 14. A group called Petrolia Curb Appeal enlisted the help of the Petrolia Volunteer Fire Department to burn four dilapidated structures to the ground.

City Ordinance 103 does allow the city to remove dangerous or unsanitary structures. But it requires the code enforcement officer, who is currently Mayor Cindy Armour, to notify the property owner in writing (the ordinance calls for the letter to be hand delivered to people living within city limits), post the notice on the structure, file the notice with the city secretary and give the owner 20 days to appeal or 30 days to fix the problem.

Fred Waggner owns one of the properties burned by Curb Appeal. He said the only letter he received was from Curb Appeal and it was dated just days before the fires. Petrolia City Secretary Belinda Branigan said no record of letters from the city to Waggner are on file in Petrolia.

Many folks in town expressed concern over the actions of Petrolia Curb Appeal. Many agreed run down structures need to be removed, but there was concern over how the group approached the project.

"There are structures that should be taken care of," said Deanna Caton, "but not necessarily in their way."

"I think a lot of these structures should be down," said Chester Belknap. "But, they should have gave the man a chance to get his stuff out."

Jena Fleming and Jan Lott of Curb Appeal said they had the city's okay to go ahead with the fires. Mayor Cindy Armour said the city has nothing to do with the group's actions. When asked if that means Curb Appeal acted outside the authority of city code, Armour said the city attorney has advised her not to comment.

Fleming and Lott have refused multiple offers to comment.

Tim Barnosky, Newschannel 6.