06/08/04 — Property owners given reprieve on condemnations

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Property owners given reprieve on condemnations

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on June 8, 2004 1:59 PM

Three houses were condemned by the City Council Monday, but two property owners were given one more chance to repair their dilapidated dwellings.

Chief Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra told the council during a briefing that there had been a development regarding the condemnation proceeding for a house at 416 Gulley St.

The Gulley Street house was on the list for condemnation because of fire damage, but Cianfarra said the owners had come to his office Monday for a building permit.

"The insurance money just came in, so they want a building permit to repair it now," Cianfarra said.

He said that state law prohibited him from denying the owners a permit in this situation, but he told the council that a time limit for repairing the building could be set.

City Manager Richard Slozak suggested that the council condemn the house, but give the property owner five days to get a building permit.

"After that, you can give them a 60-day time frame to get 50 percent of the work completed," Slozak said. "And give them 90 days to have it totally done."

The council agreed to follow that procedure with the Gulley Street house, and with another house at 607 East Spruce St.

Robert Swinson, owner of the Spruce Street house, wrote a letter to the city protesting the possible condemnation. He said he received a letter from the city on May 19 about the house. He said that he tried several times to call Cianfarra, but that his phone calls were not returned.

"The only complaint we were ever notified about was a storage building on that property, not the brick dwelling which is the newest structure in that block," Swinson wrote in his letter.

Cianfarra said that Swinson had first been notified by the city, in writing, on Aug. 8, 2003 that the house was in substandard condition. "He was given until Aug. 25, 2003 to obtain a building permit for repair work," Cianfarra said.

Because Swinson didn't get a permit, the inspection department continued with the condemnation process. The city sent a letter to Swinson in Sept. 2003, telling him that he was in the second phase of the process. The city gave him until late November to begin repairs.

"Again no permit was obtained," Cianfarra said.

The property then went into the third and final phase of the condemnation process. Swinson was given until Jan. 6, 2004 to get a repair permit.

"Since January, Swinson has requested an extension for repair work on this and another property due to his ill health," Cianfarra said. "The property was eligible to be taken before the City Council for condemnation in Feb. 2004, however the office had granted Swinson a 90-day extension period to allow him to make the necessary repairs."

Since the council was giving the property owners of the Gulley Street house another opportunity, it decided to give Swinson one last chance.

Swinson must obtain the permit within five days and complete the repairs by September. If it's not done, Cianfarra can proceed with demolition.

A third house was condemned by the council, and demolition proceedings will begin immediately on that structure. The house, at 603 Isler St., was originally inspected in Feb. 2003, and was found to be in dilapidated condition.

In other matters Monday the council:

*Denied a request by Grady Construction Co. to rezone the east side of Patetown Road between Catherine Street and Tommy's Road from R-16 residential to office and institutional. At a hearing in May, eight people opposed the rezoning. In addition, four protest petitions were filed by residents. The planning commission recommended denial because of the extensive opposition and because of traffic problems in the area.

*Set a public hearing for June 21 for a noncontiguous annexation request from Friendswood, LLC. The property is on the southeast corner of U.S. 70 West and Martin Road.

*Set a public hearing for June 21 for a contiguous annexation request from United Entertainment, Inc. The property is on the northeast side of Tenth Place between Norwood Avenue and Englewood Drive, and is the site of the new movie theater.

*Approved a preliminary subdivision plat, site and landscape plan for Gra-Lan Place. The property is on the south side of New Hope Road and the west side of Central Heights Road. A planned unit development, consisting of condominium type buildings, will be built in the development. There will be 48 lots in the development, with two units per lot.

*Approved a site and landscape plan revision from Wayne Community College for a continuing education building. The plan shows a 31,204 square foot building which will have 11 offices, 9 classrooms, conference rooms and restrooms.

*Approved a request from Evanston Development to rezone the west side of Lockhaven Drive between Wayne Memorial Drive and Gloucester Road from General Business Special Use District to General Business.

*Approved zoning the Lane Farms and Howell properties, which were voluntarily annexed into the city in 2002. Several residents spoke against the proposed zoning during the May public hearing, citing traffic problems.