Willmar City Council votes to pursue corrective action against east side house
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council voted Monday night to pursue corrective action or removal of a rundown house at 409 Litchfield Ave. S.E. under the hazardous buildings section of the building code. The action had been recommended by the counci...
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council voted Monday night to pursue corrective action or removal of a rundown house at 409 Litchfield Ave. S.E. under the hazardous buildings section of the building code. The action had been recommended by the council's Community Development Committee.
The motion to seek the action was made by committee chairman Bruce DeBlieck and was seconded by council member Jim Dokken.
Under state law (adopted by local ordinance), a building is considered unsafe if it is structurally unsafe, does not have adequate egress, is a fire hazard or is otherwise dangerous to human life.
Bruce Peterson, director of planning and economic development, said he learned last week the property is in tax forfeiture status, meaning the taxes have not been paid.
He said the state is now the owner, with Kandiyohi County as the custodian.
He said the house has sewage in the basement, broken windows and mechanical problems.
Council member Doug Reese said he was glad to hear the committee's recommendation. But he asked if the house, which he said at one time was a beautiful old home, could be salvaged.
"I just hate to see us lose beautiful homes like that. These beautiful old homes are tough to replace,'' he said.
Peterson said the first step is to have city inspection staff document conditions. The report would return to the council and the council would decide if the structure met the definition of hazardous.
"There are ways to abate the issues identified,'' he said. Demolition would be the last resort. He said it would be nice if someone repaired the house, which had been used as a rental property.
Council member Ron Christianson said the city would pay the demolition cost.
The cost, said Peterson, would be assessed against the property.
The rundown condition of the 409 Litchfield house and other houses, as well as the decline of neighborhoods on Willmar's east side, have been the focus of complaints by residents for several months.
Trudy McAdams, a 25-year resident on Becker Avenue Southeast, is among homeowners who have concerns about deteriorating housing conditions.
"There are lawns not kept up, garage doors hanging by a couple of screws, just not kept up,'' said McAdams in an interview before the council meeting.
"We just want it to be neat. We thought that if we kept ours up, and we have done that over the last 25 years, it would help. But it doesn't seem to help. There are several right near our house that are of concern,'' she said.
"I think there needs to be consistent standards and I think that the standard needs to be raise,'' said McAdams.
In other business, the council approved a Finance Committee recommendation to direct staff to return $17,500 to the Willmar Design Center's 2006 budget of $50,000.
In 2005, the city bought a dilapidated house on Benson Avenue Southeast for $17,500. Money for this expenditure was taken from the Design Center budget.
The Design Center has already spent $32,500 of its $50,000 contribution from the city. Design Center officials have said the center would close if the $17,500 amount is not restored to the budget.
The council also:
- Renewed the three-year intergovernmental transfer agreement with the Municipal Utilities under which the city receives an annual payment from the utilities. The previous agreement expires on Dec. 31. The utilities' anticipated payment of $1,686,363 represents 8.5 percent of projected revenue in the city's 2007 budget of $19,535,707.
- Voted to hold a hearing Nov. 20 on a proposed $3.1 million street and improvement construction project in the Water View Business Park.