Panel asks the city council to declare east-side house hazardous
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council will be asked to determine if a run-down, vacant house on the city's east side is hazardous. The council's Community Development Committee Thursday evening discussed the condition of the house at 402 Ann St. S....
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council will be asked to determine if a run-down, vacant house on the city's east side is hazardous.
The council's Community Development Committee Thursday evening discussed the condition of the house at 402 Ann St. S.E., and voted to recommend the council issue the declaration. The council will consider the recommendation on Monday night.
Committee member Jim Dokken said the house has been a problem for four to five years, and he urged the council and the city to do something about it.
Photos taken this past spring and passed around to committee members showed trash strewn inside, fixtures in disrepair and the interior damaged. Windows were broken, the exterior is deteriorated and the corner lot is overgrown with trees and shrubs.
"The building code allows the City Council to make a determination that a building or a structure is hazardous, and there are provisions of the code that specify how a city has to deal with those types of structures,'' said Bruce Peterson, director of planning and development services.
If the council declares the house is hazardous, the city can issue an order to abate the condition, which means the owner must correct code deficiencies within a specified period of time, he said. Failing to do that, the alternative is demolition.
The owner is deceased, and the owner's representative has health issues and is living in a nursing home.
The house was vacant for two to three year before it became a problem.
Peterson wasn't sure if the house was rented, but people were living there and moving in and out.
If the owner's representative does not make repairs or demolish, the city is faced with paying demolition costs. The costs can be assessed against the property, but any or all of those costs won't be recovered until the property is sold, he said.
Peterson said staff believes the cost of demolishing and removing the house, backfilling the hole and disconnecting the utilities would exceed the value of the bare lot. He said a buyer may not want to pay for the lot what is owed against it in assessments.
"In order to buy it, they would (have to pay the assessments), unless they came back and negotiated a reduced price,'' Peterson said. "And that's where the loss would come in.''
He said the price of the property would have to be based on an appraisal to determine the market value.
In an interview, Peterson said the city shares neighbors' concerns.
"We think it's a blight on the neighborhood. We think it's a safety issue, and that's why we've tried various attempts to deal with the problem. But because of the health issues of the deceased owner and the owner's representative, we've had problems with it. Now we're at the point where it's appropriate to address it fairly aggressively, and that's what the committee has chosen to do.''
In other business, the committee:
- Recommended the council approve a $4,096 estimate to repair the library roof. The library board has approved the repairs. The funds would be taken from the library's capital reserve fund.
- Received as information a proposed marketing plan for the new airport. The committee referred the plan to the Airport Commission for comment.