Archive for Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pace frustrating but city dealing with unsafe structures

January 18, 2007

As city officials continue toward revitalizing Eudora's downtown district, a question hangs over the project in the form of a red, white and blue crumbling wall.

The city labeled the wall in the 700 block of Main Street as an unsafe structure last year and sought bids for its demolition. The property owners appealed first to the city and currently to district court because they didn't want to pay for the cost of demolition, Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said.

Since being deemed an unsafe structure, city crews have blocked off the area from the sidewalk to the street with barricades.

"The biggest frustration we have with it is not being able to go in and clean it up as quickly as we would like to," Beatty said.

The wall is subject to a set of revamped building codes passed at the end of 2005, which gave the city more power to deal with properties deemed as public nuisances.

Before, if a citizen made a complaint about a structure, the city had to go through a much longer process before it could take action, Beatty said.

"Now we can write it up and act on it on a quicker basis."

With the new codes, the process begins with a complaint.

If a citizen files a complaint against a structure or property, building inspector Rick Treas will investigate the merit of the issue.

If he deems the structure is out of compliance with the code, the city sends a notice to the property owner requiring them to fix the problems within 60 days.

During this time, the property owners have the option of approaching the Eudora City Council for an extension, fixing the problem or selling the property.

With the new codes, any problems or action the city has taken on the property will be appended to its paperwork with the city.

If the property owner can't or won't fix the problems arising from the complaint, the city can take action to either demolish the structure or repair it.

"If they choose not to clean it up or repair it, the city would do it for them," Beatty said.

Any action the city takes with the structure will be billed to the property owners.

Should the property owners be unable to pay, the bill will be assessed on the property's taxes.

"If someone doesn't like the decision of the city, they always have the right to go to court," Beatty said.

The Eudora Board of Appeals upheld the decision by the city council when approached by the owners of the wall.

Last year, two of the three houses the city deemed as unsafe structures were demolished, Beatty said.

In addition to the wall on Main Street, city workers are working to clean up a property located in the 1000 block of Maple Street, which has also gone through the process, Beatty said.

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