Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Signs of things to come

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 5:03 PM

The Gazette's Bill Vogrin has an interesting story in today's Side Streets column, detailing the frustrations of a group of neighbors who live near a rotting, collapsing, condemned building.

The kicker: the building has been condemned since 1973.
Neighbor Kevin Sutherland can’t understand why the city allows it.
After all, this house was “exhibit A” for neglect when the City Council adopted a blight ordinance in 2006.
So why, he asks, does it still stand as a monument to neighborhood decay?
“I’ve complained to the city,” Sutherland said. “A lot of people have complained. But I think everyone has given up. The city won’t take care of it.”

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I've been speaking with the administrator of the city's code enforcement unit, Ken Lewis, quite a bit over the past month about the challenges that face his department. Honestly, the city's inability to do much about this building comes as no surprise.

As Lewis has explained, property owners have significant rights, and it is difficult to get the legal approval to declare a building a dangerous structure and have it demolished. It's equally difficult to get owners to take an interest in maintaining their property or remediating their code violations. And, with his thin staff of overwhelmed code officers, it is difficult to keep up with the thousands of complaints of code violations that they deal with every year.

You can read more about the challenges facing Lewis and Co. in tomorrow's Independent.

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