Jan. 6, 2010
Corbin H. Crable
The Gardner City Council on Monday decided to raze one unsafe and dangerous property, while four others were temporarily spared in order to give their owners time to bring them to the city’s safety standards.
The council awarded a $5,500 contract to Garland Excavating to demolish the structure at 875 N. Juniper Court; attorneys for the FDIC, which currently holds notes on three properties on Apache Street, and Randy Wilbanks, a representative from DDR, which owns an unsafe and dangerous structure on Blair Street, have been given until the council’s Feb. 1 meeting to meet the city’s standards of a safe and secure property.
Desarae Harrah, counsel for the FDIC, said First Choice Builders will hold the records for the Apache structures until later this month, when the notes will be auctioned off, most likely to a bank or lending institution. She asked the council for more time to approve the boarding up of all of the structures, which also will receive all-weather siding instead of the particle board that has weathered the elements for two years. The new owner of those structures, then, would be the lien holder and would determine how to further treat the structures.
“This I could live with, but I really don’t want to see boarded-up houses,” council member Todd Winters said in response to Harrah’s request of more time to complete the securing of the structures.
“We’re not dealing with aesthetics. (We’re dealing with), ‘Is it a dangerous property or not?’” City Attorney Jim Hubbard reminded the council.
Wilbanks, meanwhile, had previously boarded up the Blair Street property on Dec. 15, established by the council as the deadline by which the property owners must secure their properties or face demolition.
At Monday night’s meeting, an attorney representing Wilbanks and DDR told the council that the Blair Street property likely will be sold to a company called Complete Acquisition LLC, and that the sale should close by the end of this month. Upon finalization of the sale, Complete Acquisition will hire an engineer to inspect the property, and the company will establish a plan by which to secure the property. The attorney assured the council this could be done by the Feb. 1 meeting. After that time, the attorney told the council that Complete Acquisition could have the property completely secure by April 4. After April 4, the council could still vote to demolish the property if it does not meet the city’s standards of safety.
Council member John Shepherd voiced concern that the Blair property still has value, and that if the council votes to demolish a structure of value, it could later face a lawsuit. Hubbard agreed, adding that a judge could deem the city’s safety standards to be “unreasonable.”
Council member Steve Hale voiced his belief that the process to make a final decision on these five properties has been extended beyond the deadline originally set by the council, and that there are still many more structures to address.
“If we’re going to be flexible, we’re going to go through this every time,” he said.
City Administrator Stewart Fairburn said he realized the process has become drawn out.
“No one wants this to go on forever,” he said.
In other action, the council:
* approved the reappointment of Dave Hayden and Dennis Falls to the Gardner Airport Board. Their terms will end in January 2012.
The council will next meet for a work session at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.
Council delays decision on unsafe structures
Jan. 6, 2010