POINT PLEASANT — A complaint filed against the Mason County Commission accusing it of discriminating against senior citizens and the handicapped has been dismissed without prejudice.
The Commission was notified of the dismissal this month from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Philadelphia, Pa.
“This case has been closed administratively with no finding being made on the merits of the allegations,” Melody Taylor-Blancher, region III director, wrote in a letter addressed to the Commission.
The complaint was filed in 2009 by Developer Doug Pauley who built the controversial Milton Place housing development north of Point Pleasant, according to the Commission.
After the Commission refused to give its support to the construction of the housing development, the complaint was filed. At the time the complaint was lodged, the Commission consisted of not only Commissioner Miles Epling, who was wounded serving his country in Vietnam, but Commissioner Bob Baird, who was 76 at the time of the complaint’s filing - both of the men a member of the groups the commission was alleged to discriminate against.
Later, the Commission said Pauley offered to drop the complaint in exchange for $30,000, to reimburse Pauley for expenses associated with the apartment complex. The commission did not pay the $30,000 and Milton Place was built anyway on land formerly owned by West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue and his wife Robin.
Despite refusing to sign a letter of support that Pauley requested to obtain grant funding, the funds were granted and construction began without the commissioners even being notified - residents alerted commissioners construction had begun. Commissioners were told Pauley needed their consent to receive the funding and though he didn’t get it, he eventually received the grant anyway.
At the time, John Perdue sat on the board of the West Virginia Housing Development Fund which approved Pauley’s grant for $3.67 million in federal stimulus money to build Milton Place. When this happened, a representative for the housing development authority said during the vote for Pauley’s project, Perdue’s designee recused himself from the meeting while the remaining members discussed and voted on the matter.
Commissioners battled the construction of Milton Place, saying it didn’t meet a need in the community and the majority of residents were against it. Concerns about the viability of the complex for the elderly and handicapped were the fact it’s several miles out of town, away from grocery stores, pharmacies, physicians and the county has no public transportation system to assist these tenants with travel.